If a Mother Falls to Her Knees, Does She Even Make a Sound?

Some days, like today, I wish I could just step out of it all just for a moment, long enough to catch the breath I lost somewhere between becoming Woman and becoming Mother.

Some days, to be Mother is to press flat against the packed mud I left indented in my rock bottom.

Some days, to be Mother is to dig and dig beneath what is left of my forgotten corpse and reveal the remains of what I longed for, the bones of my selfishness, and the chains of my distended freedom.

Those days, when to be Mother means the opposite of Mother, my toe traces the line that keeps me from the edge, curling over sharp loathing holding me back.

Oh, I talk about it. I am honest and open and so fucking real.

I hide behind this realness. I confess it. I shout it so that it will not linger in darkness, shining light like a cloak, and I pretend I’ve exposed myself.

I even reach out to others with comfort and love and understanding… so much understanding.

Because I get it, I really do.

I know these days well.

I should know that on those days I am not looking for love and attention. I am looking for reprieve. And no one can give it to me.

If a Mother falls to her knees, does she even make a sound?

If a Mother breaks free, does she ever hit the ground?

If a Mother is not a Mother, what is she?

everything

to everyone

peck 

need

peck

desire

peck

comfort

peck

love

peck

faith

peck

trust

peck peck peck

Nothing left

for me.

 

The Place Where I Belong

She calls me, breathless.

“It was amazing,” she panted. “I loved it. I was made for this, Ima. I need it.”

Patched up by the threads trailing behind her gathering into a seam sewn with every fall and knotted with each triumphant rise, my lungs fill.

My hands slow their spasms. My head sweeps the day’s anxious pacing to the place in my brain that archives these moments in memory where they no longer hold me by the throat.

**********

I had been unsure for so long.

She was my rainbow baby.

When I grew her in my womb, I stopped the world to keep her safe. I could not trust my body, it had betrayed me before. I slowed time, went still, and waited. Month after month, I pushed down my swelling heart, locking it up so it could not get hurt. I would not dream, refused to take any steps further than the one right before me.

And then she burst into the world.

I had never seen the colors she threw at me, the way she blended the lines and filled the spaces with depth and layers. One on top of the other, her shades of joy spun me around and changed me.

But light does not color darkness. Beneath it all, the part of me written into her code lay dormant, waiting to pounce.

It found a moment of vulnerability and doubt and dug deep into her translucent skin.

Oh, how it hurt.

It strangled her with the rope I had never been able to shake off my neck. She couldn’t explain it to me, the only one who could really understand.

“I know,” I would say, imploring her to let me in.

“NO! No, you don’t.” Screaming with rage, she’d pull away. “You’ll never know what it’s like to be me.”

Punching my gut from my past stood 10-year-old me.

“I know,” I’d whisper to her through the years. “I know exactly how it feels to be you.”

So I tiptoed around a ride through hell and ecstasy, hoping she’d get what I never could find. Her voice rose and fell with each curve, gathering speed as it steadily spread the black between each vibrant color.

Flashes of pain seeped into her notes. It was haunting and beautiful and the scariest sound a mother can hear.

My prayers swept around her tormented thoughts, her twirling emotions, her bright overwhelming light, into the vastness of a universe I feared could not see her.

Just one little corner, one place to lay her head down… please let her feel like she belongs.

Her song grew strong, too strong. It began to surround her and swallow her with its need to be heard.

It could no longer be contained.

Softly, with the gentlest touch on her fragile little back, I steered her towards the spotlight.

And then she stepped onto the stage, a solid black ground raised for the world to see. Her eyes blinked, her heart stilled, and she poured out across the place she was meant to be.

Curled up at home where I could not rush to her side, I waited for my star to rise.

**********

“I was made for this, Ima. I need it.”

“I know,” I say to her and to me and to all the times we didn’t believe it and all the times we won’t be comforted by it. “I understand.”

And I do.

Can’t I Be The Mom I Want To Be?

They told me kids grow up too soon…so I feel a little guilty right now…

Because it doesn’t seem soon enough to me…

I don’t know if I was made to pick up toys all day…have my skirt used as a tissue…field questions about witches and monsters…listen to never-ending whines about everything and anything…all as I desperately try to maintain a cool I don’t know exists and refrain from losing it completely.

I’m sitting on the couch now…because both kids are in school…and I’m supposed to be looking for a job…but I don’t want to.

I want to have my mornings to myself.

I want to be able to clean the house without anyone climbing under me or walking all over a damp floor with muddy shoes or taking all the toys out at once…undoing everything I’ve done.

I want to go to the supermarket by myself and not have to bribe anyone with candy while I try to push a cart too heavy already with only a package of tissues and a child in it.

I want to exercise without having to put a child or two in front of a screen and then shower with the door closed for once, not having to strain to hear if everyone is still alive.

I want to cook without someone reaching for my knife…insisting on helping me…tasting the tomato paste with dirty fingers…demanding to be fed NOW…and whining about how boring it is when no entertainment is provided on demand.

And then I want my kids to come home to a hot meal and a warm hug.  I want to have a smile on my face and a clear mind, ready to listen to everything.  I want the strength to gently change their tone and remind them how to speak.  I want a clean floor to spread out on…playing games together…building castles…racing cars…with laughter.  I want to help them brush their teeth…comb their hair…cuddle up with a book or two…or three…and finish the day with hugs and kisses.  Then I want to sit down with my husband…my best friend…and enjoy an evening together.

This summer showed me how I am when I am in a constant state of responsibility for another person – especially little bored persons.  I am not happy with how I reacted.  I am full of guilt and remorse for wishing things about my children I know I don’t really mean but don’t know how much I might.  Mostly, I feel guilty for wanting them to grow up already and take care of themselves.

So I’m procrastinating…and writing this instead of a resume.

I love my children.  I really, really do.

I love them so much that I don’t want to ever have to compromise on how I raise them.

I just don’t have another solution.

I’m scared I’ll have to sacrifice the kind of childhood I desperately want them to have for money.

That makes me sick to my stomach.

Mother, May I?

Seven years.

It’s been seven years since I had some time that could be mine to do with as I please.

The routine of my life consisted of pregnancies, depression, births, newborns, infants, toddlers and learning to nap when I got a chance.

By the time my daughter turned three, my son was born.  We added daily pick-up from preschool to the schedule.  The naps got shorter.  The afternoons got harder.  The evenings were a blur.  Such was life.

But my two-year old needed more than what I could give him.  So he went off to gan.  The way I feel about that is still being explored.

He loves it – I’m ok with it, and now I have five hours a day without him.

Five precious hours.

Today I went on a walk.

By myself.

With headphones.

Blaring music without a care.

It made me feel alive…and free…

And when I got home, I prepared a salad without any pulling on my legs and sat at the table and ate slowly, without having to share my food.

It felt weird.

And liberating.

But still weird.

So I knew I needed to work that out – that strange sensation of wanting someone to pull at me and bother me because it makes me feel like I am worth something…

I saw an ad that caught my eye.

A writing workshop.

And I knew that it was now or never.

So I took the plunge.

I start tomorrow.

And I’m sitting here wondering why I’m doing it.

Wondering who I’m doing it for.

Wondering at myself for wondering.

This morning when I walked with me, I knew her well.

Cause I’ve always been there.

Taking care of me through them – and getting myself ready for today – the day I said hello to the only person worth doing a writing workshop for.

And boy is she excited.

Mother of Two

Describe yourself, they say.

Make them understand who you are.  Use words that paint a picture.  Dig deep inside and express your qualities with letters and spaces.  Get them to understand you.

So, I try.  I close my eyes and I dig and dig and dig.

In the process, I throw aside the obvious and the mundane.

My age, that’s a given.  No one can gather anything from that.

My looks are ever changing.  There is no defining feature that will tell you who I am besides my eyes, and they are hidden behind unremarkable frames.

My character leaves much to be desired.  I do not want to place myself in the box it builds around me.

My talents are gifts I do not use for the right reasons.

I keep digging.

My hands get dirty as the shovel of my mind tosses words, piling them up around me.

Suddenly, I hit something hard.

The words come crashing through in an avalanche of emotions that hit me, leaving me breathlessly stunned.

Mother of two.

The box is opened and the descriptive words begin to flow, picking up speed with every letter.

My daughter is a gorgeous, vivacious three-year old with an active imagination.  She loves to dance, is extremely musical and her little feet are constantly tapping out a beat.  She hums while she eats, bathes and sits on the toilet.  When she colors, she slants her head in the opposite direction of the paper.  She bites her lip when she’s concentrating.  She stands up and shouts a sincere thank you to Hashem when she prepares to eat.  She adores pretty things and always picks flowers for the people she loves.  She tells me when she’s happy or sad and is quick to warn others of what is dangerous, as well as reassure me when she’s safe.  She has beautiful, long lashes framing big eyes that never seem to close, even while she’s asleep.  She talks in her sleep in two languages and says the most intuitive things when awake.  She is a sought after friend and tends to play the caregiver in her relationships.  She is a superb actor, fiercely independent and a staunch advocate for the less fortunate.  She loves animals, is an avid bug-watcher and has an affinity for rhinoceroses.  She skips when she walks to the park and trudges home despondently when playtime is over.  She shuts down when faced with a harsh tone and thrives on anything gentle; gentle touch, gentle sound and gentle people.  Her disposition is like her name, strong and fierce mixed with soft and pure.  She processes information quickly and thirsts for knowledge.  She is a marvelous being who provides me with endless amounts of joy and gratitude.

My son is but a babe.  He is soft, sweet and wondrous.  In the two months since his birth he has transformed an entire family unit.  He constantly kicks his legs and throws his arms about, itching to run.  He does not complain and is inherently patient.  He makes sweet noises while he eats.  He smiles wide and laughs silently at the angels dancing over my shoulders.  His eyes are big, round and hungry as he takes in the world around him.  He is quickly distracted and notices everything.  Music sooths him and he is easily appeased.  He is both simply unassuming and intrinsically complex.  He is adoring and wants nothing more than to feel the love he evokes in me wrap around him in a cocoon of warmth and security.

And I, I am their mother.