Mommy

July 11, 2007

It’s late when you return home. You pay the babysitter, who slips out the door and rides away on his bicycle into the warm night. You make yourself some tea – ginger peach, with ice cubes to stay the heat – and sit in the darkened living room, listening to the quiet, wondering how late the husband will be, thinking about how tired he will be in the morning.

Thinking about how tired you will be in the morning.

You take your tea and climb the stairs. The child was fine, the babysitter said. She cried when you left and protested his accompanying her to the park, but very quickly decided that the swing was the thing, and that it didn’t matter who accompanied her there. They had had a good evening, he said. She’d gone to sleep easily.

You stand outside her door, and listen to the soft whirr of the fan above your head. She’ll be sprawled across her bed – yes, her bed, the crib having been disdained for more sophisticated comforts – her feet pressed up against the safety bar, her arms thrown back above her head, one set of chubby fingers clutching her lovey. Long legs, long torso, long toes; her body is so much less a baby’s in sleep, her limbs stretched in full extension, a dancer frozen in mid-flight. Her face, though. In repose her cheeks bloom like cabbage roses and her mouth settles into a soft round O, a perfect little berry. You would want to nibble those cheeks, were you leaning over her, brushing soft blond wisps back from her forehead. You would want to run a finger over her impossibly pink lips. You would want to breathe in all of the baby that remains of her, breathe it in and hold it in and never exhale.

But you don’t, you won’t, because she is sleeping and because this is not your time to be with her; this is night-time, sleeptime, dreamtime.

You go into your bedroom and sit down on the bed and sip your tea, cool now from the ice. The cat winds its way around your legs, flicking its tail against the back of your knee. You think about getting ready for bed.

You didn’t say goodnight to her, of course. The babysitter would have said goodnight. She would have asked for you, though. You know this. You can hear it, almost, if you shut out the sounds of the night: the lilt of her voice, the little trill on the last syllable of ‘Mommy,’ the question hanging in the night air. Mommy?

You want to go in. You want to go in and climb into bed beside her and pull her to you and kiss the top of her head. You want to rest your hand on the swell of her belly, feel the rise and fall of her breath. You want to breathe her in. You miss her.

You don’t know why, but you miss her.

Sitting on your bed, you feel the whole of your future spill out before you like so much ribbon, unfurling onto the floor, a mess of loose tangles. You feel the unfolding distance, the lengths that will stretch between you, even as she remains within arm’s reach. You feel the future quaver in your heart, that quaver that will come when she insists that you no longer call her baby. When she asks to be left alone. When she shuts the door against you and hides away in that room, holding her mysteries tightly, pressing them against her chest and shielding them from your view.

That moment will come. You know it. You will smile bravely, if uncertainly. You will accept her distance. You will understand it. Will you hate it? You don’t know. From here, from the vantage point of this moment, it seems unbearable. You’re pretty certain that you will hate it.

But she’s here, now. So close.

You set down your tea and turn out the lights.

You tiptoe down the hall, silently, and ease open the door to her bedroom, silently, silently. You reach out in the dark and feel the curve of her back. You hear the whisper of her breathing, small sweet sighs.


You climb in beside her, and pull her to you. Quietly, quietly.

Mommy?

Yes.

Always, yes.

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    { 88 comments }

    former dyspeptic of middle european stock and still blogless in these blogful times July 12, 2007 at 3:25 pm

    Catherine,

    I don’t know if you could be any more poetic. You not only live in the moment but you covey the sense of being in the moment. Reading your postings is a transcendental experience that, at reaching the conclusion of each entry, one feels that all is right with the cosmos and that there is peace and belonging and love.

    Spalding Gray used to talk about searching for “the perfect moment”– and one was left with the feeling that he never found it. You, on the other hand, seem to find them daily and convey them so exquistely.

    Jenster July 12, 2007 at 3:50 pm

    **sigh** I can relate all too well. My babies are 15 and nearly 13. But I still hug on them and kiss on them and giggle with them and they take it all in good naturedly. But oh for the snuggly days.

    Beautiful post!

    Jenn July 12, 2007 at 4:26 pm

    So perfectly describes the dilemma every night in my home.

    But she’s sleeping

    But she won’t be this sweet, this little, fit this well into me forever

    But if you wake her, she’ll be awake and then what?

    I just so know I’m going to regret all of those nights 30 years from now.

    But I still tiptoe back down the hall.

    Jennifer aka Binky Bitch July 12, 2007 at 5:16 pm

    Oh my. Beautiful. Just beautiful.

    I can’t go to bed without first looking at my two sleeping. I love to see them sleeping, so calm and serene.

    Mommato2 July 12, 2007 at 5:41 pm

    Ohhh…I loved this post…so very true. I sneak in every night for stolen kisses from my 4 and 6 year old…they will always be my babies!

    Mom101 July 12, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    This is beautiful C. I think we’ve all been there but you captured it like few can.

    Christy July 12, 2007 at 5:47 pm

    My babies are 4 and 6, and I still miss them while they sleep. Beautifully written post.

    Jenifer July 12, 2007 at 7:09 pm

    Well…. now that I’m crying. My daughter turns 3 next month, and what you wrote hits so close to home. She tells me everytime I call her “baby”…”Mommy, I’m not a baby, I’m a big girl!” and I tell her yes, but she will always be my baby no matter how big she is. She looks less and less “baby-like” each day…. I look at pictures and wonder….. where did the baby go???

    Mommy off the Record July 12, 2007 at 8:16 pm

    Ok, I’m totally crying now!

    Beautiful.

    Jozet July 12, 2007 at 8:33 pm

    Beautiful.

    Simply beautiful.

    Multi-tasking Mommy July 12, 2007 at 10:07 pm

    SO well said, and I’m with you…I’m 100% with you!

    Slackermommy July 12, 2007 at 10:47 pm

    Beautiful! My children are 9, 7, 5 and 18 mos. I still have these feelings with my older ones when I watch them sleep. They are simply angels when they sleep.

    Pgoodness July 12, 2007 at 11:05 pm

    That was lovely and perfect and so true in every way. Wonderful post! Thanks for sharing that.

    Lisa b July 13, 2007 at 12:07 am

    Perfectly described.

    Lady M July 13, 2007 at 1:49 am

    Beautiful sleepyhead.

    I love seeing Q with his arms thrown above his head like that, fast asleep, free of inhibition.

    Sam July 13, 2007 at 4:20 am

    *Wipes away the tears* That is so beautiful.

    Chantelle July 13, 2007 at 9:30 am

    This brought tears to my eye. I think the pregnancy hormones are finally gone, so it must just be beautifully written.

    Rebecca July 13, 2007 at 10:12 am

    This was spellbinding and captivating… and my first good cry of the day.

    Thank You.

    You big poopy-head

    WhyMommy July 13, 2007 at 10:27 am

    Beautiful. You sure do paint a picture, HBM!

    Lizarita July 13, 2007 at 10:42 am

    Breathtaking.
    Thank you.

    Emily July 13, 2007 at 11:11 am

    Well put. We have all felt that, haven’t we? That’s why *Love You Forever* is my husband’s favorite child’s book.

    Bloor West Mama July 13, 2007 at 12:37 pm

    What a beautiful post HBM. Once again you have expressed so well how I feel. I too sneak in to see my Isa every night before I go to bed and the urge to pick her up and just hug her and kiss her is unbelievable.

    Sara July 13, 2007 at 3:11 pm

    This made me cry. So true. So how I feel about my kids.

    tallulah July 13, 2007 at 8:21 pm

    That’s why my sweet little Izzy comes up the stairs to our room at almost midnight….every night. I never protest.

    Anna July 14, 2007 at 6:02 am

    NOTHING like going in and saying goodnight to sleeping babies. I can’t possibly resist touching them, either.

    Thank you for the sweet story.

    Nancy July 14, 2007 at 8:33 am

    I have the hardest time coping when I can’t be home for bedtime. For some reason it just seems wrong not to kiss my girls goodnight.

    You expressed this exquisitely.

    gingajoy July 14, 2007 at 9:58 pm

    jesus f**k woman!
    (thank you)

    Fairly Odd Mother July 15, 2007 at 2:32 pm

    Amazingly lovely and perfect.

    Her Bad Mother July 15, 2007 at 9:16 pm

    Joy, only you can make dirty claims about the Christ’s sex life as a way of expressing appreciation, and do it with such *panache.*

    (you’re welcome)

    poetmama July 16, 2007 at 2:16 am

    Moved me to tears, expecially the part about “the whole of your future spill out before you like so much ribbon.” My daughter is 2.75 years and I am starting to catch glimpses of that future. You have such a beautiful way with words!

    Damselfly July 16, 2007 at 10:36 am

    How do you do it?

    Ruth Dynamite July 17, 2007 at 6:22 am

    Sighing and crying over here. Lovely.

    Rachel July 17, 2007 at 10:48 am

    Just last night I stood by my 18 month old’s crib just watching. I go in there every night.

    Last night, I woke her and spent just a few more precious minutes with her. Just me and her.

    Beautiful post.

    BlondeMomBlog (Jamie) July 18, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    This is, without doubt, one of the most beautiful posts I have read all year. Maybe it’s because I have two daughters, maybe it’s because my oldest is about to start kindergarten and I still look at her with awe and stroke her cheek and hold her close when she falls asleep.

    This made me cry.

    Just beautiful.

    Nancie July 20, 2007 at 7:00 pm

    My own beautiful daughter is 33 years now with a wonderful daughter of her own, and here I sit with tears running down my face and a hugh lump in my throat – remembering. You have caught it exactly – the moment and the memory. I thank my daughter for turning me on to your blog, and thank you for expressing your inner self so well.

    Liza's Eyeview July 30, 2007 at 6:19 am

    this post is so sentimental…so touching…so lovely…so true….

    Stephanie July 31, 2007 at 8:16 pm

    Wow. Your poetic post gave me goosebumps.

    Keep writing!

    Cyndee@Riezzee's Place August 2, 2007 at 8:35 pm

    My “baby” will be 14 on Sat. Thank you for putting into words what all mothers must feel.

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