My eldest made me a mom and opened my eyes in so many ways since. My youngest is constantly reminding me of a number of the things I first learned with her brothers. They are pictured below sharing a special moment a few holidays back.I remember a difficult daycare drop off with her one Friday when she was three. I tried all my usual tricks to settle in her peacefully. I let her visit the baby room (she is a baby freak) and say hello to the little chubby cherubs who beam when she steps in the room. We stopped by the bathroom to “go potty” when I was pretty sure there was no biological need. I gave her many, many “huggies.” She just didn’t want me to go. I reminded her she was a big girl. And we practiced her telling me, “Have a good day at work, mommy.” Normally, she does just that and my day starts with the sense my life is in order. But not this day. . . I finally ran out of time and creativity. I walked to my car with the sound of her sorrowful wailing (Ma-a-a-a-a Ma-a-a-a-a-!!) ringing in my ears.
As I drove off with a knot in the pit of my stomach, I recalled the times I felt that way when my boys were younger. There were days when they wanted mom to stay and I couldn’t. I remember questioning my decision to work and whether I was doing right by my precious children. I can still see the picture in my mind’s eye of my eldest’s beautiful tear stained little face pressed up against his daycare window pane crying for me one of those times.As my boys grow, their need for mom to be there doesn’t look quite the same. I get requests to come to school presentations and sporting events. They ask for help with homework or affirmation after a tough day at school. Or some times they just want me to listen. Later that same week as my teenager was sharing his views, he said something that made me feel bad. I stopped him. His usual fun loving, animated face disappeared and was replaced with an anxious, sad look. I watched as what I said to him sunk in. His shoulders drooped. He remained quiet for a moment or two.
He then said, “Gimme a hug, Mom!” I said, “Wait a minute. . . let me get this straight. You made me feel bad. When I told you, you felt bad. And now you want me to make you feel better.” He said without hesitation, “Exactly! That’s what moms do.” I wrapped my arms around him. But apparently my embrace reflected traces of the feelings he stirred up. He added a qualifier, “Hug me like you are happy with me.” Whatever bitterness remained melted as I was reminded I had a then fourteen year old who still needed his mom (although not expressed in front of his peers). And he gives me so many reasons to laugh and to learn.
I can’t make it right for each of my kids every day. I hate that but I know I need to accept it. But the times I can I cherish. And reminding myself of those, and watch them grow into their uniqueness, helps me survive when I can’t.