Thursday, January 29, 2009
Pieces of Me: Mama
I am the cheerleader and the anchor. The one who keeps the train on its track, who holds the rhythm of our days. I am the one who reminds you that your violin folder should have a place you always put it, damp towels should be hung up, the sink rinsed out of toothpaste, cleaning up is part of playing (that last is channeled right from the Great Index of Things Mothers Say), the couch cushions do not live on the floor, balls should not be thrown indoors, your lunchbox needs to be emptied out, use words not your body, turn off the nightlight, and I love you.
I am frequently the Finder of All Things. I remember this is a quality my own mom had when I was growing up; my perception was that the reason why I could not find the things I wanted was because she was always moving them. She was also frequently a bit irritable at being asked all the time. Now I say things like: "Use the two eyes God gave you" to my own children. And yes, I move things, especially when they are in random places or on the floor and sometimes small bits are sucked up in the vacuum, usually not on purpose. And yes, sometimes I am irritable myself at being asked.
I move our boots near the door we will exit by.
I am the one who knows where your nice warm socks are. And puts your hat to dry on the garden gnome that was too cute not to keep inside our house year-round, next to the stove with his jaunty pipe.
I intervene when there will be violence. I can tell what kind of distress you are in from your cry (hurt, angry, physically injured, and wanting attention).
I am the one who makes sure that your favorite pants (one of two pairs, only one brand ever, and the only brand that seems to last against your very sharp knees) are clean.
I keep your mittens dry and ready for the next day. Here are four pairs drying (one pair for school, one for skiing after school), with toilet paper tubes inside them to keep them open, facilitating air-flow, and not festering with stink. They are above our doorway in the warmest room in the house.
I am the one who puts the slippers in the same place each time, after retrieving them from under the couch. And also the one who notices the sandals in the background, there in that same spot since they came home before the winter break.
We make things together.
We laugh together, cook together, and call our friends to give them singing telegrams on their answering machines. I serve you healthy things and hope you will eat some of them. I watch your puppet shows, perpetual motion experiments, reenactments of favorite silly parts of books (complete with singing and a well-placed blast of whoopie cushion). I write down the wonderful things you say ("Why is the full moon good luck?") and save them like precious gems.
Motherhood is what I always knew I wanted to do and it's unfortunate that sick days are not included in the package (at least in these United States). It's the first job, the best and worst job, bringing out my best and worst; it's the thing that started ten years ago and won't ever be done until I die. It's the thing that has taught me the most, has shown me (with painful regularity) my own short-comings and character flaws. You have kept me humble and conscious of what it is I do and how I do it.