Evaline is my slowest speaker, but also the best of my children at saying what she needs, when she needs it. Lately, this need has been me. I will be standing at the counter when she comes alongside me and slides her little fingers into my palm. I need you, Mama.
I will be typing on this keyboard, sitting on my bed, when she will come along beside me and lay her cheek on my knee. I need you, Mama.
Last night, she tugged at my leg as I was making dinner. I need you, Mama. I crouched down beside her and pushed blonde strands of hair out of her face. Being tiny as she is, she climbed herself right up on my knee and curled into my chest. We rocked there in the kitchen, waves of Christmas music, angels on high, chestnuts and Jack Frost, and snow, snow, snow, filling in the air around us as we silently hugged.
She was not cold or hungry or hurt, her only need was this moment in my arms, it was me.
In bed last night, and well into this dark early morning, sleepless, I stared up at the ceiling and wandered down the rabbit hole of second guessing my motherhood.
What started as thinking about the sweetness of that moment in the kitchen with Evie, unraveled into a mess of self-doubt and worry. It is what insomnia and motherhood usually becomes.
I realized that I had hugged each of my children at least once yesterday, except for Alex. My oldest, he’s all elbows and knees lately and an awkward hugger. He has always been an awkward hugger, more of a limp, stand-there-and-take-it, than a full on, arms around the neck, I-am-never-going-to-let-you-go, sort of guy. And yet, though he does not say it, I am sure he needs me just as much as Evaline, to give him moments of reassurance that I am still his.
His language is not so clear. He skirts around things and if there is something he wants that he is unsure if he can have, he will not ask directly, if at all.
Instead, he hopes for a mind reader and he waits.
Thing is, I am not a mind reader.
If only, I were.
You see, the mom that I am not, would bend her knees and quiet her own wild, spinning thoughts long enough to not miss her children’s cues.
The mom that I am not, would somehow manage to transition from parenting her nearly nine year old, to parenting her two year old, organically, naturally. She would not fumble between baby talk of Bah-bie (who is really a plush Ariel doll that Evaline brought home from Disney and insists on calling Barbie) and explanations of the molecular structure of water and air and how the world came into being.
The mom I am not. She is patient. She is peaceful. She is never hypocritical, judgmental, worrisome. She is consistent, with rules, with meal times, with schoolwork, with hugs.
She is mythical.
This morning, Alex sits in the living room, wrapped in blankets and hugging my childhood Pound Puppy named Cocoa. He is reading to Asher from The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.
Alex is fine.
This morning, coffee and quiet time is bringing clarity to an otherwise unclear moment in life, motherhood. We all travel through it, much like cars in the fog. We can see the short distance before us, carved out by our headlights, but whatever is beyond is uncertain, is blackness, is curves and roadblocks and flat tires.
This morning, I am laying to rest this vision of impossible motherhood. Because no one, not even The Mom I’m Not, can see beyond the fog, and no one can be so self-assured along these dark tangles of the roads we’re driving.
I am grateful for children who come to me easily and openly, and I am grateful for children who challenge me to reach out beyond what comes naturally to me.
I am grateful for the moments when I am confident in myself as the mom that I am, and for the moments when I feel weakest, when I can do nothing but cradle them and rock side to side on my dirty kitchen floor, but I am all the mom that they need.