This little slice of the internet hasn’t been on my radar as of late. Hell, it hasn’t even been in the vicinity. Let’s be frank, the adjustment to this “new normal” has been more akin to whiplash. Isolating, scary, uncertain. I have had millions of slivers of ideas- typically poetically pondered just before sleep steals the words from my memory. Which is well enough, as I haven’t had the time or mental bandwidth to transcribe those words had I remembered them. Basically, like the world, I have been overwhelmed. That could be a whole topic on its own. Being a small business owner. A single mother. Hell, a human experiencing this “unprecedented time”. But it’s Mother’s Day, so that particular examination will have to wait.
Over the past four years, Mother’s Day is traditionally a tough one. A day I desperately wish to feel special. Not just special in general, as my parents do a beautiful job showering me in love, but from a partner. Kitschy mom gifts lovingly picked out by said partner and my tiny human. To be awoken with breakfast in bed and cards filled with beautiful words and messy scribbles. A reality I have yet to experience. The most memorable was just after Moose’s first birthday. He awoke in the early morning hours, screaming and inconsolable. I was convinced- as I typically was in similar moments- that my baby hated me. I couldn’t soothe him. I couldn’t ease whatever discomfort was ailing him. However, this particular night, in my sleep deprived haze, I began to rub his gums. Lo and behold! My Moose had cut his first tooth. Through tears, I exclaimed “happy Mother’s Day to me!” It was the first gift (aside from his mere existence) he had given me. Shortly after, I became a single mother. The path of life can be terrifying, confusing, and surprisingly beautiful.
I had only been a mother for a smidge over a year when I was thrust into solo motherhood. The solace of a partner removed- even just the facade of one. The following Mother’s Day holidays were intermingled with tears. Envy. A tinge of self loathing. Maybe a bit more than a tinge. And loneliness.
This year I didn’t have an expectation. A hope of what the day would hold. I didn’t need cards and special presents. Which, thank God since we are experiencing social distancing. My morning started like every morning has for the past three months- Moose’s little hand touching my shoulder alerting me to his presence. Our routine is unspoken and choreographed. I slide over in bed and lift the blanket, allowing him admittance. He curls in my nook and allows slumber to steal him away once more as he is safely cocooned in my arms. My favorite part of every day. I listened to my son laugh. I read a book while he played. I drank Earl grey tea. We played a strange game of me feeding him Cheerios while I taught him to say “feed me Seymour!” Which was invariably garbled into “feed me more!” We giggled for no reason, our laughter fueling the others. And at bedtime, in his sweet, sleepy whisper he asked me not to leave.
He grabbed the top sheet and positioned himself to be my little spoon. Upon which he rolled to his other side, reached his arm around me, and pat my back ever so lovingly. I had to stifle my laughter as he pantomimed me scratching his back. There is no doubt that he is my child and genetics are strong.
As I lay in his bed, smelling his hair, I realized that this was his gift to me. And one I gave myself. This big bed, a milestone Moose hit this week, was a present I didn’t realize I was giving myself. The effort to reconstruct his bed frame was setup for my new beloved place in this house. I am his comfort. I am the embodiment of love and safety for him. I am the hands that scratch his back. I am his mom.
At four, Moose has reached new levels of stubborn. New heights of big emotions. And a set of pipes. Seriously, kid can be loud. But he also has autonomy. Independence. A sense of self. He doesn’t rely on me to be his mobility. He can run. Feed himself. Entertain himself. Outside of wiping his ass and keeping him from accidentally killing himself, he needs me less and less each day. What has blossomed in place of necessity is so much sweeter. He wants me. He wants me to share in his laughter. He wants my hugs. My tickles. My mere presence. He hugs me with enthusiasm and kisses me with kindness.
I cannot think of a better present on earth.
Being a mother is a moniker I wear with pride. It is an endurance race that I was unable to train for. It is also one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. There is so much I don’t have figured out. As a parent. As a woman. As an architect. As a friend. But I know this- I am loved. I have a beautiful network of people that are there for me on the messy, tearful days and also the days full of elation. And all of the mundane ones in between. They are integral to why I am such a good mother. I stumble. Often. But the people- my people- are the strength I lean on when I worry I cannot get back up again. They dust me off. Wipe away my tears. They show me my strength in what I viewed as weakness.
I didn’t have a hope of what this holiday would hold this year because I didn’t need it. I didn’t need to feel inordinately special, because I feel loved. Accepted. I didn’t need one day a year to fill the void of all the others. And I ordered my own kitschy present.