Nostalgic is what I’m feeling this Mother’s Day eve. My son was a terrible liar when he was little. His eyebrows gave him away every time. We used to laugh and say, “Wyatt’s got his bad eyebrows on again.” Or something close to that. None of us that said it, repeatedly for years, can quite remember exactly what we called his lying eyebrows.
I started writing to my kids when they were born, in a blank book for each of them. I write about what it’s like to be their mom, the good and the bad because truth is important for connection and less loneliness. I write about things they do that are worth pausing over so they’ll know I paused. I write about things they say that I never want to forget. And so I went in search of exactly what we said to Wyatt about his eyebrows when we knew he was bending the truth to his will. But it wasn’t in there. Shoot! I know I thought I’d never forget this thing, but then I did. I found some good stuff on the re-con mission though so I am appeased.
Wyatt turned 15 a couple of weeks ago and got his driver’s permit. He prophesied about these days to come when he was 5 years old:
Nope. Not even close. But I still chuckle about how he thought we would cuddle well into his teens. The day he stopped holding my hand was a rough one. It wasn’t that he stopped, I knew that was inevitable. It was how it went down. I reached for his hand one day and he pulled his own away and said no dice. The rub was that he had never told me that the last time we held hands was going to be the last time and so I was not prepared for this sudden finality. I told him I needed to hold hands just once more, just once, then we could be done and I’d be ok with it, for reals. I was so not ok with this way though, cold turkey. Still, no dice.
But a few days later, as we sat on the couch together watching a movie, he slid his hand over into mine for what probably amounted to a fraction of a nano-second and then pulled it away again for what I knew was forever. There were no words spoken and there was no need for any. This boy has my heart for always.
Both of my kids are funny. Though my daughter was serious when she said this to her brother when she was 7 years old.
This makes me snort laugh for the absurdity of it and pondering how this made sense in her head can occupy me for long, day-dreamy spells.
These books I record snippets of their lives in are like gold to me and they make me weepy for the good ol’ days. Days that weren’t any better than these days, days that are just distant and gone and glossed over by the astigmatism of hindsight and that trick me into thinking I want them back.
When Hallie was 8 years old she knew Santa had her on GPS and was watching her every move, she was a smart girl and she knew just how to get to the jolly old elf:
No need for a full-on peace treaty, just a cease fire would get the job done, she was sure of it.
In real time, we are working through something with one of our kids right now. In it there is stress and uncertainty, anxiety and regret, but also hope and faith are beginning to seep in through the broken. Through the cracks that let the light in. I sat with some cherished women this week and though I tried to keep it light, I wear my heart on my lips and they are loose. There was no way of keeping it in so I stopped trying to and I let it out. I’ve got the oldest kids in the group by far and I often wonder if I scare the shit out of my friends with littles, or no kids yet at all, with my tales of woe and wonder.
The setting was a safe-house though and just the place to exhale, let the guard I sometimes employ stand down and tell my truths and share my story and each and every one of these women responded with the good stuff. Perspective, life experience, wisdom. They held space for me to express my fears and dilemmas and they didn’t try to fix what there is no way they can mend. Instead, they gently steered me in the direction of peace by way of connectivity, faith, hope and trust. They helped me switch my lenses from polarized to prismatic. And also I walked into my friend’s bathroom to dry my tears and saw this:
Something about seeing that step stool inexplicably calmed what lingered of my storm. These days are long gone in our household, one of my kids is eight inches taller than me. My kids don’t need a boost to reach the sink anymore and they don’t hold my hand or snuggle with me either. Instead, we’ve been doing hard together for what feels like many, many moons now. I’m tired. I’m worn out from it. And all of that is ok. This stool helped me recognize that we are just in another phase, that’s all. This too shall pass and I will want it back as well.
On my way back to the group I passed this open closet and felt the waning squall grow even more still:
And again I can’t fully explain why. I do miss those days that drove me nuts; with the endless toys underfoot and the whole of the house feeling overrun by smallish dictators with ceaseless needs, desires, and demands. Those days and these days are not so different though they seem it sometimes.
Mother’s Day is about mothering but also about being mothered and if I switch gears and think about my own mom I can access some peace there as well. My mom is as imperfect as they come, and she’ll know that’s a good thing worthy of high praise in my mind. There are plenty of things she didn’t get right. My mom is LOVE though. In spite of all the ups and downs and all the things I would change in a heartbeat if I had the power, the overwhelming resonance between the two of us is love. The right kind of love. The kind we all want, need and deserve. The kind that overcomes, trumps and bests. Real love.
And so my hope is this… when the long roller coaster ride my kids and I are on finally comes to a stop and we get ready to hop on the log ride that comes next, when they look over at me and see me pale, sweaty, raw and reeling from the motion sickness, they won’t lament and wish for the kind of mom that hoops and hollers and laughs maniacally on all the scary rides. Instead they will land on the realization that I rode all the rides with them. All.of.them. Even the ones that terrified me. Though I wasn’t always the best rider, I rode with love. The right kind of love. Real love. That is my hope.