This morning, Mother’s Day, I woke up in my son’s bed. I had meant to just lay there quietly with him, until he fell asleep, and then move to my bed, but I beat him in the race into the arms of slumberland and a combination of his lack of snoring and a very comfy bed meant I did not stir until 5:30 in the morning.
It was the perfect place to wake, next to my boy, who is 11 and not so little anymore. He is not so big, though, and I need to remember that as well. He is still scared of the dark and can giggle and be silly with the best of them. But his feet are starting to smell and the other day he announced with an honest fascination and amazement that he has lots of hair on his legs.
Oh yes, indeed, time marches on. The hair is growing. The penultimate baby tooth is rocking to and fro in the back of his mouth, hanging by a ribbon of skin in perhaps a last stalwart attempt to say, “No! I am still a baby.” I don’t want to yank it out, he told me. He wants it to fall out “naturally.” Um-hum.
I like being a mom. Sometimes it pulls out the worst in me, yes indeed. And I think, who IS this woman? And where did all this anger come from? But most days it is a natural groove, one carved out a minute at a time. Over days and days and weeks and weeks. You see, mothering is an endurance event. You cash in every so often, when your son runs into your arms and squeezes you so tight because he is beside himself with joy at just getting the call telling him he’s made the soccer team. Or, like last night, when just before he fell asleep, he said “Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.” Or when he’s hurt himself, and in that split second after the pain comes, it’s you that pops into his consciousness. It’s you he wants more than anything. More than anyone.
That’s powerful shit.
When Anders is out of town, we sidle up to the sushi bar and have legitimate conversations about people and things and music. Yes, I get asked far too often what are my 3 favorite songs, or favorite movies, or favorite cars. And Hans can repeat, ad nauseum, what he would like for Christmas or his birthday or who he would put on his Dream Team in soccer, to the point that I know … I KNOW … I am not paying attention. And he has to say, “Mom” in that sing-songy way. He wants my attention. All of me.
My very own mom understands that deeply. She has never been too busy not to watch me. Or Hans. She was the lone mom at some of my high school swim meets, when nobody else’s parents were there. She told me once she wondered if it was the wrong day or time, because she couldn’t fathom why parents wouldn’t come to watch their kids. She would ask me, when Hans was in one of those summer camps where the little kids just run around attempting to play basketball or soccer or baseball, why I didn’t stay and watch him play. I told her that I cherished those few hours for that week, when he was busy and I could go and do my own thing. She couldn’t understand it. When I was a child, she volunteered in the school library, and sewed new flags and a wonderful banner for the swim team, and woke up and made me breakfast every day when I decided I wanted to do swim practice BEFORE school. And left at 5:45 in the morning. She could have put out cereal and stayed in bed. Could have. Didn’t though. That was her job, damn it, and she was going to do it to the best of her ability.
She taped 7 cents inside my brown paper bag for lunch every day in elementary school, in a neat little line, so I could get a pint of milk. Never forgot. (She was also the ultimate recycler before it was cool, giving me any manner of brown paper bags for my lunch, not quite understanding how insufferable it was to come to school not with the “cool-sized” NEW brown sack lunch, but with whatever sized used brown (or white from Caldors) paper bag was handy. She taped every musical note I played, and always made it to my concerts (even in college when mom and dad had to drive for 2 days to get there.) Because it mattered. And I felt that. Still feel it to this day, actually, when I ask if she’d like to go along with me on some errands, and she says there is nothing she would rather do then spend time with me.
We Moms love our kids like that.
Which is, when you think about, something that any child wants. Undivided attention. So on this Mother’s Day, as I type this, I’m going to try harder to set down what I’m doing, and watch him attempt to juggle the soccer ball “more than 12 times.” And I’ll try not to get impatient when he flubs it the first 6 times, and says, “Wait, I messed up” each time. And then tries again. Because maybe someday soon he won’t ask for me to watch.
And there is nothing better than trying to show your mom something, and having her there, paying close attention, when you master it. And so, when it happens, and you say, “Did you see that?” she can say, “Yeah, hon, I saw you.”