My son had his first moment of sheer terror last week. He departed the bathroom to see a fly in the hallway. A fly he thought had been banished from the safe enclosure of our home. A fly I thought had been dealt with.
To say that the scream that exited my son was jarring, is an understatement. I may have momentarily evacuated my skin. I did not respond to said panic in the best fashion. This is where I feel the need to mention that I was sick. As if that somehow absolves my irritation at my son’s palpable fear. For a few moments, I forgot that I was the mother to this little man. I was just angry at the irrational fear. The shriek that penetrated to my my soul. I sat in my anger for a beat before regaining my senses- before scooping my traumatized toddler into my arms and snuggling him until his fears eased.
I am not the best mother I can be when I am sick. My patience is tested. I don’t have the energy to play or chat. I basically function at bare minimum. The reality is, I harbor guilt for this. Specifically my response to Moose’s panic Thursday night. Though I course corrected, I admonish myself for needing to. I have a tendency to berate myself for being human. I am working on this.
I have researched since Moose was safely tucked away inside my belly about the best ways to nurture a healthy relationship with his emotions. How to teach him that emotions are natural and healthy- that it is our responses to them that make them harmful or not. It is a google search that happens frequently, as he ages and experiences more of the array of feelings our psyches conjure. I say all of this because I do not often give myself the same forgiveness. I am trying to put my guilt down from that evening. Because you know what? I did course correct. I gathered myself. I apologized. I soothed him. I didn’t scar him for life.
Here is what I have discovered in the last few days of my Mucinex filled, sloth-like existence. Even when I am relegated to sitting on the floor next to him while he plays with his trains- he’s delighted I am there. When I don’t have much energy and I lay on the sofa- he finds comfort in my lap. When he falls down- my kisses are still healing, even if I need to wipe my nose first.
I am a super hero.
This little boy thinks that I have magical powers to fix whatever ails him. I repair broken toys. I dole out kisses to boo-boos as liberally as desired. Have the answers to his questions. Catch him amid his mischief. Harness a strength that lifts him high into the air- carries him when his body tires. My arms cure fear. My fingertips still gentle enough to wipe away tears. I am the keeper of things. I produce his favorite snacks. I pack the right toys. I steal hugs and evoke the best laughs. In his eyes- I am magic.
I am his super hero.
I don’t know how long my kisses will heal his hurts. One day he will have his heart broken and my kisses won’t be able to repair the damage. But I pray that it morphs into something else- something more sustainable. I hope he sees that I am human- fallible- and admires me for it. Respects my introspection. Determination. Growth. My strength despite my weaknesses. I hope that when I lose my cape- I’ll still retain being a little bit of his hero.
I think it is easy for us parents to forget that our kids don’t see us the way that we see ourselves.
When I look at my little monster, I see perfection. The way his skin on his bum dimples. How his belly enters a room before the rest of him does. The slight fold of his skin at the top of his underpants. They are all the endearing details that create this being that stole my heart before I ever laid eyes on him.
Conversely, when I look in the mirror I see flaws. The stretched skin of my belly. The scar that smiles back at me from my abdomen. The cellulite. Extra pounds. The wrinkles. The grey hair. I don’t see these changes to my body with the same golden glow that I view my son. I don’t see myself the way he sees me. He doesn’t critique my body the way I do- he sees strength. He sees the joy in my smile. He sees a lap that comforts him when he is sad or scared. He sees my magic. He sees his mommy.
Moose is too young to get me “worlds greatest mom” trinkets. His artwork from daycare is created with the aid of a very kind adult (whom I love). So this past Mother’s Day I didn’t get a macaroni necklace or a cheesy mug that I will sip my coffee out of on a morning he woke up earlier than usual. No breakfast concoction in bed.
It can be hard as a single mom to a little person. And by hard, I guess I mean, it can be easy to miss the important stuff. The trinkets don’t matter- though I did get a beautiful frame from my mother and artwork I cherish (and refuse to get rid of. Ever)- because he shows me every day that he loves me. That I am his home. He shows me in the tiniest ways that are easy to overlook.
He shows me with his independence. The ease which he makes new friends. He shows me with his emotional outbursts. With hugs distributed at random. With giggles and requests for tickles. With his exclamations that he hurt his knee- the request for kisses unsaid as he lifts his leg to me. With the nightly ritual of rocking in my lap as we play with his ABC toy. The smile and soft “mommy” he greets me with on Saturday mornings.
I am going to screw up. I am going to yell when I would rather calmly explain to my son that I am frustrated. I am going to hurt his feelings and need to apologize. I am going to do a million other things that I can’t even think of. I am going to continue to be human. Fallible.
But you know what else? He’s never going to question my love for him. He’s not going to lose his confidence to explore the world around him because of his relationship with me. He won’t love me less.
I may lose my cape one day- but I will never lose the position of being his mother.