All you mamas with the little ones– the ones who test you. The ones who have worn you down to a nub, all your nerves exposed. The ones who crawl on you and demand things, even when you’re not sure how these humans have come to live in your house and call you Mommy when it seems like just a second ago you were sitting at your own mama’s kitchen table (making your own demands). You mamas– you are the mamas I hope can understand me.
The rest of you– the mamas with children who do what you say (when you say to do it), who never say NO! I’M NOT GOING TO DO THAT to simple directions like go brush your teeth. The ones who carry their own backpacks instead of slinging their bags at you like the pack mule you clearly were meant to be. The ones who go to sleep when they are tired instead of throwing crazed, demonic tantrums. Or the ones who are not yet old enough to knock the haze of baby preciousness from your eyes– I hope you mamas will understand me, too.
But I’m not holding my breath.
Here’s the thing: when MB was a baby, I was in that haze, too. The everything my baby does is precious haze. And you think that it will last forever, even as you make jokes about not being ready for your baby to be a big girl/boy, or how much of a spitfire your baby will be. You say those things, but you don’t really think it will come to pass.
It has, for me.
Mary Bullock was having quiet time yesterday. That sentence alone kind of impresses me, except that I know that I actually had to bribe her to stay in her room every day last week. (It was a Barbie. I hate Barbie.)
So I stuck my head and arms into her room to drop off some toys that belonged to her. She told me about what she was playing, and I nodded, distracted: mmhmm, sounds good, baby.
I stage whispered on my way out the door: I LOVE YOU.
What did you say? she said.
I SAID I LOVE YOU.
And the way that she ducked her head into her shoulders and smiled her shy smile broke my heart. She actually looked surprised, caught off guard.
Because the truth is that lately, I love you hasn’t been the phrase I have frequented most often. It’s been more like:
RIGHT NOW or
BECAUSE I SAID SO or
TURN IT OFF OR IT’S OFF LIMITS.
And all of those things are right to say, because she needs to know and I need to teach. But I never meant for those words to outnumber the I LOVE YOUS.
But right now, in this season of our life, they do.
I closed the door of her room, gently gently, so as not to wake up the sleeping gremlins in the room next door.
I’LL ALWAYS LOVE YOU, MOMMY is what she said from the other side.
And I’m glad there’s always tomorrow.