Lost: Dignity. If found… nevermind.

I forgot, when I had children, to put a dog-tag and collar on my dignity.  I’m afraid, even if someone does find it, bedraggled, cold, famished and shivering on the side of the highway, that it’s irretrievably lost to me.  For no one will recognize it as mine.

My 9-year-old: “Mom, do you have to go potty or are you just dancing again?”
Me: “Um. Just dancing again. Thanks for asking, Aden.”
Aden: “You’re welcome, Mom. You always say to ask if I have a question, so that’s what I did.”
Me: “Well, I’m sure glad we had this conversation.”

Admittedly, my dignity always lived in a precarious situation. I wasn’t ever the most conscientious owner.  I never walked my dignity on a leash, and it was forever tearing off down the street, chasing cars, barking at cats and disappearing into the night, not to be seen for weeks and weeks.  But, back in the day, I could always count on it to come home eventually.

My 5-year-old: “Mom?”
Me: “Yes, Cael?”
Cael: “Do you know why I wuhve you so much?”
Me: “I know why I love you so much.  You’re my precious baby boy, my gift from God, my sweet, smart kid.  Why is it that you love me so much?”
Cael: “Because you’re so squishy for waying on.”
Me: “Aw. Thanks, Cael.  I like our snuggles, too.”

Cael:  “Mom?”
Me:  “Yes, Cael?”
Cael: “You know how I said ‘squishy?'”
Me:  “I remember that from 12 seconds ago. So, yes.”
Cael: “I just meant fat.”

OK, then.

Me: “Cael?”
Cael: “What, Mom?”
Me: “I love you.”
Cael: “I wuhve you, too.  That’s what I said.”

One day, I realized my dignity had been gone far longer than usual, and I began to wonder if it would ever return.  The days turned into weeks turned into months turned into years.

4 out of 5 children:  “Mom!  I have to PEE.  Right NOW.”

I pulled the car over.

Me: “OK. Drop trou and pee on, ladies and gents.”
Them: “But this is a parking lot.”
Me: “No one’s looking. You’re shielded by the door and your squishy mom. According to your brother, that’s plenty of cover. You have 10 seconds. It’s go time.”

Over time, I said my slow and final good-byes.  I used to think there would always be a hole in my heart, that empty and unfillable place where my dignity used to live.  I missed her.  I longed for her.  I remember all the nice things she used to do, like close the bathroom door.

Now, though, that I’ve released so many chunks of my heart into my kids’ grubby, sticky, beautiful hands, I hardly miss the old girl.  My kids have stuffed the holes full, packing every nook and cranny with love, sass, and missing Lego pieces.  In fact, I suspect that’s where all the dryer socks end up; shoring up the walls and holding every heart thing in place.

I guess what I’m saying is this: if you find some extra dignity laying around, don’t return her to me.  I am no longer capable of responsibly caring for her, and, frankly, she deserves better than what I can offer.

Instead, in my dignity’s memory, take her in.  Give her a hug.  Maybe a warm bath and a hot meal.  Tell her I miss her.  And that I’ll always remember her fondly.

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
11 comments
  1. […] awry. Where one must solve issues that arise only with items on hand like one’s wits, lack of dignity, and a dirty sock. Where one practices one’s Kegles not because one is disciplined to […]

  2. […] every possible turn. I think my Love of Shopping is hanging out on a tropical beach somewhere with my Dignity and my Sense of Decorum, part of a witness protection program because I’m a ongoing danger to […]

  3. […] With love (and no dignity left at all), […]

  4. […] Now I go. Now I do it anyway. Now I’ve accepted the gift five kids have given me; my dignity’s been missing for years and I can ignore Embarrassment and Insecurity almost as well as I ignore MomMomMomMomMommyMom, […]

  5. […] while you’re sitting on the potty because you’ve tried it and the cost is only dignity which is probably long gone and an easy price to pay, but still… decisions = paying a price. Sure […]

  6. […] too, even with my anointed tub. I will also banish shame to the same place my pride and my dignity went – never to be seen or heard from again – ’cause who needs […]

  7. I just found your blog today and this post really hit me in the heart. Thank you for putting into words, my feelings toward my three boys filling me up with love and Lego!

  8. …And thank you for loaning us some of your parenting dignity when we run a little low sometimes.

  9. Recent experience with a branch of our family has taught us that dignity consists of being there for your children, providing them with what they need, doing what needs to be done, NOT being pathetic and helpless, being realistic about yourself and your children…I could go on. And on and on…

    We have theories about a lot of things when we’re younger–including theories about dignity. When we cling on to any of those youthful, naive theories too long, we make ourselves and everyone around us miserable. Congratulations on your grown-up, successful parent-of-5-children dignity.

  10. Once again you have me giggling girl!! Just as Kasia, I find myself a little too serious too and I am trying to work on being more of a fun mom – like you Beth. What you share and your genuine true spirit to be what your kids need is an inspiration – you ROCK! Thank you for using humor to keep us mom’s going and to be able to laugh at ourselves!

  11. Your kids sound like a hoot and you sound like a really FUN mom – I’m learning to have more fun. Everything in my life right now is pointing at the fact that I’m too serious. So, perhaps I can pack up my seriousness and ship it off to wherever your dignity went? LOL They can be friends. Sounds like you have way more fun without her and I know I would have way more fun without seriousness. I’m so grateful I stumbled onto your blog. I have much to learn here 🙂

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