Tuesday, September 23, 2014

What is up with Mommy today...

I find myself needing to process this morning, folks.

As summer turns to fall here in the Midwest, the nights are getting longer and colder, and that necessarily results in this guy here wanting to snuggle more.

Early this morning (it was still mostly dark), I had just finished nursing little sister back to sleep and resettled her on the bed when I felt the tell-tale nudging and patting on my opposite shoulder. Half-awake, I carefully turned over so as not to disturb the sleeping baby, and sure enough, there was my sleepy-eyed two year old sitting up and signing for milk. I laid back down and gestured for him to come over, and he wasted no time curling up against me and opening his mouth wide to nurse. As he latched on, his head on my arm, he gave this deep, contented sigh and closed his eyes. his whole body relaxing into warmth and comfort.

I was already drifting back to sleep, but that sigh, that moment of pure peace followed me, and I heard a voice say, "Laura, THIS is what he will remember."

Hours later and I'm still thinking about that. Because when I actually woke up, cuddled so tightly between my children that sitting up without disturbing at least one of them was impossible, that statement echoed in my ears, and for some reason I was overwhelmed with a deep, wrenching sorrow. Sadness just isn't a good enough word for that feeling, for the wave of pain that stops the breath and pricks stinging tears and, just for a minute, you wonder if it's possible for your heart to physically rip itself in two, because it sure doesn't feel like it's ever going to beat again.

I chose to disturb Ana, she's much easier to resettle.

Getting ready for the day while my son still slept provided ample distraction from that tearing, aching can't-breathe feeling, which is good because what I really wanted to do was curl up in a ball and tell the world to take a flying leap. I wiped my face, put Ana in her swing, peeled a banana and opened a cheese stick, spread peanut butter on a slice of bread and set it all on a tray with his favorite fruit, green grapes, all on auto-pilot. All in that distance that says, "Don't think, just move."

By that point JJ was awake, I could hear him calling "ah-ee! ah-ee!!" (Which is "Mommy! Mommy!!" in JJ-speak.) Ana was still asleep in the swing, so I went back into the bedroom. We spent a few minutes letting JJ nurse and wake up properly, both got dressed, and came back out to the living room, where we sat on the sofa and cuddled through an episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

Which brings us up to the present moment. My brain is awake, I can breathe, but I'm still trying not to think too hard, because I can feel that swirling undertow threatening to yank me off my feet if I look at it too closely.

And I don't know why.

That's the really awful part, I don't know why. Because that moment of flawless serenity and love was beautiful and all-encompassing. It felt like I could stay in that moment forever, right there with both of my children, happy, safe, content. That hour between falling back to sleep and waking up was the most restful sleep I've had in three months. For that hour... I remember the feelings, but ... what I think I remember of what went with them feels like unzipping a compressed file, or watching home movies on fast forward. Microsecond images, layered emotions.

This is what he will remember. A moment of total safety, love, contentment, security. He woke up cold and hungry, and Mother was there to make him warm and full.

This is what he will remember. When he is five and some precocious little girl thinks he's cute and kisses his cheek on the playground, he will remember that Mother kissed it first.

This is what he will remember.  When he is seven and he has to say goodbye to an elderly dog, he will remember that Mother makes it better.

This is what he will remember. When he is eleven and the hormones start making him a little crazy, he will remember that Mother sometimes feels a little crazy too.

This is what he will remember. When he is eighteen and graduating high school, when he looks at the boundless horizon of his looming adult life and feels afraid, excited, confused, invincible, and very very small all at once, he will remember that Mother will always make room for him, and strike out in confidence from that place of safety.

This is what he will remember. That from his earliest memories, Mother represents safety, comfort, feeling treasured, feeling secure, being challenged and built up, being supported and helped and even left to make mistakes and learn from them on his own, but most of all love. Being fully, wholly loved, without reservation or caveat.

And all of that is wonderful. It's amazing and beautiful and staggering in its vastness.

And it makes me deeply, unbearably sad.

And I don't know why.

Trying to figure it out is making me weepy again. In the time it's taken to write this out, I've stopped JJ chasing the cat with his play-stroller twice, changed three diapers, nursed Ana back to sleep and put her back in the swing. I want to cry, scream, shriek my pain at the heavens, or curl into a tight little ball and pretend the world goes away when I can't see it.

JJ knows something is off. He keeps coming up to me with a grape, a toy, a book, doing a silly dance or making faces, trying to distract me. After I got a little frustrated with him chasing the cat, suddenly I just stopped, picked him up, got him changed, and laid down on the bed with him for a minute. Just looking into his eyes. Told him Mommy was having a bad day, but I was gonna try really hard not to yell at him. Told him he could help me by by being kind to the cat and to his sister and doing what I ask the first time without whining. And for the past hour he's done just that. He just now buckled himself into that stroller (which he does when he wants to be reminded to stay put) and is quietly watching Sheriff Callie. Every few minutes he looks at me to see if Mommy is feeling better yet. It's not his normal "Mommy, come play with me" behavior, he's plainly been trying to jostle me out of my funk.

I think I'm going to let him.

Because all this feeling stuff is hurt-y and sore and it really kind of sucks.

And this other stuff over here, the loving stuff, this is better.

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