I remember a lot about my childhood, probably because it was a really, really good one. My mom was a stay-at-home-mom and despite some serious health issues (sound familiar?) she did everything she could to make sure that I lived in the moment and had the opportunity to enjoy being a child.
My mom and I were very close (still are) and I was extraordinarily in-tune with her emotions, even when she thought she was hiding them from me. Although sometimes I did not have the developmental maturity to really digest and understand her feelings, I could feel when she was happy, sad, worried, angry, or unsettled.
My mom was mostly open with me, explaining why she was feeling a particular way especially when I pressed her to know what was wrong. But more often than not, she replied with 8 little words that echo in my heart today. “You will understand when you are a mother.”
Yes mom, I sure do.
At the time, I could not comprehend why my mom cried and apologized for not feeling well so often.
At the time, I could not understand why my mom yanked me back with such force when I almost walked into oncoming traffic.
At the time, I did not know why my mom covered my eyes when the dog got hit by a car.
At the time, I didn’t realize how far outside of her comfort zone my mom pushed herself to make sure that I got to experience childhood the way it should be experienced.
At the time, I thought it was gross that my mom would use spit to clean up my dirty face.
At the time, I had no idea why my mom would hold back tears when I staggered home with my gums bleeding, front teeth gone.
At the time, I didn’t understand why my mom would cry at my bedside the day before I went back to school after summer vacation.
At the time, I was confused by my mom’s sad expression at my birthday party.
At the time, I didn’t understand why my mom wanted to grab a machete and cut the balls off of the boyfriend that hurt me.
At the time, there was so much that I really did not understand as I was the daughter.
Now I am the mother. I get it. I understand.
I understand all the tears. The tears of joy, the tears of pain, the tears of sadness, the tears of letting go.
Tiny is just now three years old and I completely understand why my mom told me time and time again, “you will understand when you are a mother.”
I sit here, cuddling with Tiny who is snuggled deep in my lap, kneading my love handles as she vigorously takes in some mama’s milk. I look at the top of her head, I inhale her sweetness, her innocence. I would love nothing more than to keep her here, in my lap forever and ever. Just as my own mother longed to keep me little.
What my mom wouldn’t give for her little girl to crawl into her lap and snuggle in tight. I understand that need now. I am already missing that closeness because I know that it will evolve and that Tiny and I will no longer be snuggle buddies sooner than I can even fathom. I will be my own mother one day, looking on as Tiny grows into a woman and perhaps sits with her own precious little one snuggled deep in her lap.
So mom, or Moogie as I like to call you, I understand. I really understand. And I am so sorry that I had to grow up. I wish that for one day we could go back in time so that you could savor all that you would one day miss. But since we can’t just know that I now I understand.
Happy Mother’s Day Moogie!