growinghumans


Love lifts us up where we belong
February 7, 2017, 1:10 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

It can happen at any time, when you least expect it. You will be folding laundry, watching Netflix alone in your bed, trying to get it together enough to find something to feed your kid for dinner, not even thinking about feeding yourself.

For me tonight, it happened in the steps it took from the bottom of our stairs to the refrigerator. Tiny Human was curled up on the couch, folded but neglected laundry all around her, giving her some sort of security that her own mother refuses to engage in. I asked her what she wanted for dinner–the fridge full of ready to go meals that her father had prepared all weekend in anticipation of his wife feeding their six year old daughter cereal for dinner. She picked one of her lunchables. I wasn’t sure if this was allowed. I wasn’t sure if they were just for lunches. I decided I didn’t care and let her do it anyway.

As I was pouring her milk, she came up behind me and wrapped her impossibly long arms around me, at the very top of my rib cage. I turned around and leaned into the hug, barely having to bend down to return the embrace. Her grip tightened around my shoulders and I felt her legs bend and prepare to leap. I braced myself for the launch and caught her in my arms as she wrapped her impossibly long legs around my waist. I stumbled back for a moment but soon we were standing in the middle of the kitchen; wrapped around one another. She was heavy; I wondered how heavy she was now (we don’t own a scale). Her legs kept slipping from my waist down to my knees.  I felt the rest of her slipping, too, but I held my grip firm.

She still smelled the same way she did when they handed her to me for the first time in my hospital room. I remember being baffled by the smell; she smelled like me. I have no idea how I knew this because no one really knows how they smell, but in that moment with my newborn in my arms and in that moment with my 6 year old in my arms, she smelled like me, a biological reminder that I am, in fact, her mother.

When I still lift her up in this manner with people around–family, friends, people in Target–there are always remarks about how she is getting too big for me to lift like that. No, I always say. I will lift her up and hold her to me until her feet no longer leave the floor when I try to lift her. I don’t care how heavy she gets, or how weak I become. I will always pick up my child because, one day, I will put her down and never pick her back up ever again.

The magic broke and she slid down my body like an avalanche. Standing straight up against me, her head has reached my chest already. There’s only a short few feet left before we are eye to eye, with puberty no where in sight. My amazon girl.

She brings her dinner to the table and I stand there, willing myself to sit with her, talk about her day, go through some of those flash cards her father has made for her. It all feels so foreign to me. It all seems forced at this point still.

I remember when I brought her home, I would put her in the swing and sit across from her, curled up on the couch and just watch her. I had no idea with to do with her. I felt nothing. I knew she was a baby–my baby–and that she must be cared for, which I managed, but the bond between her and I was and always has been a strange thing.

She calms me. She will crawl into the bed–I am always in this damn bed–and she will curl up against my stomach like how I carried her for one millions months. She holds my hand if I cry. If I lock myself in the bathroom, when I finally emerge, there is usually a picture or a card on the floor waiting for me with a happy face and whatever sight words she could string together to make a sentence that day.

I talk a big talk.

I tell people that it’s okay to open up to your children about your mental disorder. I tell people that children have a right to know what is wrong with their parents, they have a right to know about the different sorts of emotions out there and that sometimes you get so many in your head that you simply can’t take it and you have to ask for help.

It looks brilliant on paper.

I used to, maybe even until last year, see my relationship with my Tiny Human as symbiotic. I would take care of her and she would take care of me and it would go on and on and never change. But there’s a rift. I am ashamed to ask for my 6 year old daughters help with problems that I should be able to handle myself. She walks around in sad moods for days and refuses to tell me what the matter is. I sit in this bed, clawing at myself for possibly already messing up this perfect little person who was brought into such an uncertain and hesitant world. She has to be the happy in my life. And she usually is, but those days where I cannot reach her, all I think about is that I SHOULD BE ABLE TO REACH HER….and then I think wow maybe people think that about me…that I should be reachable. I have been. I went a long stretch of being reachable and able to talk about what I had gone through for that year and a half nightmare of a time. But when I get into this bed, with the curtain drawn and pillows hiding me from reality, there’s nothing even left here to reach.

Sometimes Tiny Human is sent in, as some sort of bomb specialist. Cut the red wire, Tiny Human. Not the green. She always cuts the red and is able to extract me safely away from the crime scene.

 

But how is that suppose to feel? How can I possibly feel like a good  mother at the end of these days? I sit at the top of my stairs and watch her watch her evening TV shows. I should go down and sit next to her, but I am afraid that the chasm would still feel equally large and I could not bear that right at that moment. That moment, this moment, all the moments. I need to get a hold of myself. Calling myself a bad mother solves nothing because guess what, at the end of the day I AM STILL HER MOTHER. Good or bad, doesn’t make a difference. If I don’t do anything and just watch her evolve at a distance, like a museum exhibit, those are years I will never get back. But I will still be her mother.

(Try harder, people will say. Go for walks with her. Do puzzles. Do a craft. These are the same people that think going for a walk, doing puzzles, or doing a craft will cure my depression. Easily dismissed.)

So, people who half jokingly say that I am too small to lift my quickly growing not so Tiny Human, I am going to pick her up, an hold her to me and and rock back and forth with her chubby little cheek up against mine until my arms are sore. This I can do. This is what comes natural.

Mothers– perhaps mothers like me who feel like they belong on the island of misfit parents, pick yourself up from that floor. Give your kid the damn lunchable because it’s better than cereal. Slowly get closer and closer to your child before you find yourself next to them on the couch without the help of Klonipin.

And pick that child up.

Rock your baby. Rock your baby and know that all over the world women are doing the same thing. You know why? Because you cannot fail at it. In that moment where you are holding them as close as you can get without them getting back into your womb, you are not a bad mother.

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