catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 6, Num 24 :: 2007.12.28 — 2008.01.11


I've become my mother

Every once in awhile, I leave my six-month-old son in someone else's lap when I have to do something super exciting like, I don't know, pee, or do any sorts of chores like loading the dishwasher that require bending down (he's a big kid, so my back much prefers this option). If I'm out of the room and hear him start to fuss, I try to hurry back because I know he needs me specifically, if he's hungry or tired. 

I was thinking about how I looked at my parents as a little kid—those people who represented familiarity to me in a room of strangers, reassurance and safety when I was sure ghosts were hanging out around my bed, food and provision when I needed something in particular, knowledge and competence when I had a problem to solve. 

And I realize, I'm that person now to someone. I am Mother. Not just a person now, but sort of an icon.

Because, as I look back, I realize that my parents, though excellent in those roles, were really just people under it all—only human, 30-somethings like me, not all-knowing, infallible, unconditionally loving in every second. And that's a relief, because I sure as heck am not those things either. 

But, see, it doesn't matter, because like it or not, that's how your child will see you for a long time, and you just sort of have to embrace the role and do what you can to build and maintain the trust they give so freely. 

When I walk into a room after a five-minute absence and my baby is crying in someone else's arms, he'll see me enter and his cries will change—at once abate (in sadness and anxiety) and intensify (in energy). They'll transform into a sort of hiccuping, reaching-out, half-laughing sort of cry that's equal parts relief, reproach, elation, and expectation of needs met.

I am Mother, and I am all important to my child. Do I deserve the title? Certainly not. But I'll do what I can to earn it.

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