March is recognized as National Reading Month in honor of Dr. Seuss’s birthday. Last week my daughter brought home a packet for ideas and ways to encourage reading with your child throughout this month. Included in the packet was a paper asking for parents to come read a story to the preschool class. Previously when I was working, I wasn’t able to take an active part in class activities because I was working when the events were going on. I was excited that I would be able to finally start doing school things.
I signed up to be a guest reader this past Monday but I made sure not to tell my daughter. I wanted it to be a surprise. On the morning of, I started getting super panicky at the thought that I would be reading in front of a class. Not this may seem silly, as the class was a bunch of 4 and 5 year olds, but for someone like me who has social anxiety and deals with at times, panic attacks on a regular basis, the very thought of reading in front of them made me super nervous.
When we were trying to get ready for school, my daughter was not having it. She didn’t want to go because she said she was going to miss me. So I broke my surprise and told her I was going to be a guest reader at her school and for her to pick out her favorite book that she would like me to read to her class. The change on her face was like night and day. She got so excited and ran and grabbed her favorite book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. She was jumping up and down and could not wait for me to read to her class.
When we got to her school, she held my hand as we walked down to her class and she showed me where she hangs her backpack. She was so proud of herself with showing me everything. She walked me over to the chair that I was to sit down on and she sat on the carpet with her friends. All of a sudden, my panic came to an end when I looked on the circle carpet and saw my daughter’s face. It was filled with pure joy and excitement. Her mom was the guest speaker! It was no longer about me, but about her.
I am happy to report that I successfully read The Very Hungry Caterpillar and did not die from fear. I was able to put aside my worries and fears for my daughter, even if it was only for a few minutes. And that should be considered a victory. It was a victory because I didn’t let fear or worry win. It was a victory because I was able to be present in the moment and truly enjoy being a guest reader verses being scared I was going to mess up. It was a victory because my daughter’s joy and smile said it all.
I feel that as moms, we sometimes worry that we are not doing enough. That we aren’t good enough. That we have to do all of these big, elaborate things for our kids so they know how much we love them. But what being a guest reader taught me, is that that isn’t what our kids want. They just want us. Fully and presently engaged. It doesn’t have to be a big show. It can be playing a game together, assembling a puzzle together, building a fort in the living room, or reading a story to their class. Our kids just want us and that is something I am truly trying to work on. Being present in the present.
“But you do not know what will happen tomorrow! Your life is like a mist. You can see it for a short time, but then it goes away.” James 4:14 ICB