Boyo is teething. *Deep breath.* A classic over acheiver in the making, he’s seems to be getting them all at once. He’s started off with two at once on the bottom, then another and now it appears both upper teeth and maybe a fourth bottom tooth are coming in as well. He is, in a word, miserable. But that really sad kind of miserable where you can see all the sunshiny smiley sugar just wanting to burst out of him, but then he remembers his face hurts, like really bad, and oh, is that Mama? Because yeah, I sure do want Mama. And now that I see her, only Mama will do.
There is such a bewitching duality to having a clingy baby. On the one hand, it makes it a real challenge to get anything done. In addition to taking full-time care of my boy, I also have a work-from-home job and a work-on-home duty, so Boyo’s teething neediness means, among other things, that the laundry is piling up and — sniff — ew, is that me? Yeah, y’all. That’s me. So, I give myself a whore’s bath, (tits and pits; ass and sass) throw a load of essentials (undies, mostly) in a quick cycle, and head back to my mewling little wretch. I walk up to him and even as the fresh tears leak down his cheeks, his hands go up, reaching for me, and the sweet babble of “Ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-” starts bubbling on his lips and even though I know he’s not really saying “Mama” he really is because here I am and I am what he wants, what he needs, and only I will do. That is a truly, deeply, spectacularly wonderful feeling.
I know how he feels. These days, I miss my mother so much, I almost feel raisinated. Like the juicy grape of having my shit together is getting too much sun and not enough water and I am shriveling. One of the greatest blessings in my life is my relationship with my Mama. It’s not perfect, but it is round and rich, deep and distinctly ours. Mama knows me in a way nobody else on the planet does, not my best friends, not my husband, not anyone. When I was a little girl, struggling with with my parents’ divorce and the achingly terrible reality of having to split time between two very different households, my Mama told me that there was an invisible, unbreakable golden thread that connected her heart to mine. She taught me to name the feeling of being lost without her as the simple tug of that golden thread; that the very act of missing each other was part of how we stayed connected. These days it feels like the tug of that golden thread is gonna yank my heart right out, I miss her so.
I haven’t seen her since April, in the midst of The Dark Days, and so very much has happened since then. After a year of working retail to make ends meet, my husband (I’ll call him Daddyo from now on) got a job in academia. In the span of six weeks, we flew down to Florida to find a place to live, we said goodbye to the friends and family that had made Massachusetts home, we packed up our whole lives, drove across country and spent every dime we had settling into a brand spanking new life, full of opportunities, but empty of anything or anyone familiar. Daddyo dove face first into a new job, new responsibilities, new expectations, and the new reality of having to earn the opportunity to make his one year appointment a permanent gig. We’ve unpacked our new home, hosted both of my in-laws in two different visits, forged a relationship with a new pediatrician and found the local versions of those two bastions of domestic life: the grocery store and Target. Also in that time, my dad (my step-dad, really, but really, my dad) had heart surgery and my grandmother died. It’s been a hell of a summer. And in all that time, I’ve not once rested my head on my mother’s shoulder. Brutal.
That all changes this weekend. Friday starts a twelve day stretch of “me and you, kid” time. Daddyo is going out of town for a conference and Mama is coming to help out. I cannot properly express how profoundly excited I am to see her. I feel fresh tears on my cheeks as my hands go up, reaching for her, and the sweet babble of “Ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-” bubbles on my lips. Every beat of my heart is saying “Mama” because she is headed this way soon and she is what I want, what I need, and only she will do. And that is a truly, deeply, spectacularly wonderful feeling.
I hope my boy never stops needing me. I know our relationship will (and must) change as he gets older. But I hope resting his head on my shoulder is something that always makes him feel better. I hope we have the kind of relationship that renews and recharges us both. I hope spending time together makes him feel closer to whole. I hope he believes in the golden thread as thoroughly as I do.
If I’m half the mother to him as mine is to me, he will.