How is it that I’ve never accomplished being two places at once but she’s everywhere I turn?
In the blue mason jar on the kitchen counter. (Out of all the glasses I have, these are what she chooses to drink from. Every time.)
In the half-eaten Zip-loc of Snicker-doodles (over-done to everyone in the family except to me…unfortunately); the sad, little lumpy Cake Pops (she used toothpicks, for heaven’s sake! But she was in a baking mood and she’s the champion of using what you’ve got…); the watermelon she bought for her brother (since I’ve refused to buy it until they’re in season).
In the stripped sheets piled on the floor, in the extra towel hooked on the bathroom door, in the “inappropriate” clothes not taken. Tank tops and tasteful shorts inappropriate for a sweltering climate where temperatures will swell past 100°; she’ll honor the locals by choosing respectful modesty over her comfort.
In the pile of books left behind, her Precious. She prefers turning pages, folding corners, writing notes. While reading might be leisure for some, for her it is active…adventure…oxygen.
She can’t help that she’s firstborn, the one who made me a mother. They turn us crazy, don’t they?
First, it’s the constant vigilance throughout the night to make sure they’re breathing.
Then it’s pride over every milestone no matter its size. Rolling over. A smile. Intentional sounds. Sitting up. Crawling. Lost teeth. First steps. First everything…
First day of school.
First day of middle school.
First day of high school.
First day of college.
When they leave home after high school, whether for college or a job or to serve country, the void is palpable.
It’s the seed of ache.
Motherhood is when a sliver of your heart escapes from your chest and takes permanent residence outside your body.
You incubate that heart for months, and deliver it through a wash of blood and tears, and for a lot of years it lives close, close enough to touch about any time you want to. Any time you need to.
I suspect you’ll never stop feeling its rhythm, its strum, its love.
But then one day it’s out of reach and you’ll only hear its echo and it won’t and will be enough all at the same time.
It will confound you and bless you at the same time, too.
Madden and delight.
The paradox of motherhood.
My baby girl has spent the better part of the past 24 hours in the air but her presence fills my atmosphere.
She is going, first, because her field of study demands that she go.
But she would go even if she didn’t need to because she’s a go-er. A “hands and feet” bringer. A lover of people in ways that spill her to exhaustion.
I have the glorious misfortune of liking my daughter as much as I love her, a dread only because it’s harder to hold her with an open hand.
She is hardly perfect, lest I give you the wrong idea, but I’m learning to bite my tongue over things that don’t matter. Her needs teach me to hold my things loosely and that sometimes a lie is okay, in the way that you give away the last piece of cake – the one you’ve been rationing for yourself – with a wave of your hand and a miraculously believable I really don’t like chocolate anymore on your lips.
I’ve had the luxury of being with her for a few days and I spent that time watching her. I see her beauty, marrow-deep and pure, and I beg God for more years so I can know her longer.
So I’m detoxing. This is me flattening my palms to the sky-to the heavens-to God, an offering, when I would much prefer to clamp them shut.
She’s living in the Philippines this summer, working in a rural village inhabited by people who used to roam the streets of Manila. Twelve weeks. Eighty-six days.
That’s just 8,916,480 heart beats.
Piece of cake.