Robert Burns’ poem “To A Louse, On Seeing One on a Lady’s Bonnet at Church” ends with the theme “And would some Power the small gift give us/To see ourselves as others see us! (Translation from Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/To_a_Louse)
I generally see myself as a kind and patient mother. But sometimes, I don’t think my girls see me the same way.
Let’s go back in time 11 years.
I had noticed an audition at the SC Children’s Theatre for Annie. Fiona loved Annie and knew all the songs, so it seemed like a good idea for her to try out. We went to the audition. A hundred or so other girls had the same idea. So many little girls auditioned for the 7 orphan roles that the director split the roles of the orphans and cast 12 regular orphans plus Annie. As we walked away from the auditions that night, I heard myself saying, “Fiona, I’ll be happy if you’re an orphan.” Taken out of context, that statement would be a little creepy.
My girls were excited about the play. We played the soundtrack almost constantly. All the girls had memorized all the songs and most of the dialog. Since I was surrounded by little girls, I especially liked Miss Hannigan’s solo “Little Girls.” My girls asked me to stop singing it, not because the words were scary, but they thought my singing was.
I was so excited for Fiona to be cast as an orphan! Then reality set in. I had no clue how demanding the rehearsal schedule would be. In retrospect, I’m glad that Fiona’s grades didn’t slip too horribly. And since this was our first time participating in a Children’s Theatre production, I hadn’t realized that parents were required to participate along with the child. Fiona, age 13, could not drive herself to rehearsals. From our house to the rehearsal space took 20 minutes. If I drove her there for a 2-hour rehearsal and returned home, I spent 40 minutes driving so that I could do things at the house for a little more than an hour. It made sense that I would put in some of my volunteer hours during those rehearsals. I worked in the costume room. Among other costumes, I made orphan dresses and Miss Hannigan’s robe.
If adding the play responsibilities had not caused enough stress, my husband Scott was spending almost every weekend doing things for the Army reserve as a result of the terror attacks the previous fall. Because of those reserve duties, I was solo parenting 4 girls almost every weekend. All of those things were stressful, but most stressful of all was I had not filed my income taxes!
October 15, the FINAL tax deadline, arrived. As we were driving in the car, I gently explained to my girls that I needed to file our taxes. Since filing taxes was very important and had to be finished that day, I needed the girls to start right to work on homework or read or otherwise occupy themselves while I completed the taxes. I thought I was doing a great job of patiently explaining the situation when Moira, then 3, shut me up with the sarcastic comment, “Ok, Miss Hannigan!”
She doesn’t remember the incident. I’ve wondered if she was just trying to get me to stop talking as in “I understand, Mom, you can stop talking now” or if she actually envisioned me as the mean Miss Hannigan from Annie.