Friday, March 27, 2015

Mom, Mom, a thousand times Mom

About two weeks ago I sent my mom the following text message:

"I don't know how you did this with four kids, I'm pretty sure if Soren says "Mom" again I am going to lock him outside, and it's not even 10am!"

Her response was simple and totally appropriate.
"I am smiling :)"

My mom has every right to smile at this.  She raised four kids, got her Masters of Science, taught college courses and has expertise in things I can't even spell.  And, frankly, I can't remember a time where she lost her temper with me as a kid.  She did a great job, this day in question, I felt I was doing a lousy one.


That particular morning proved to be more difficult the longer it wore on.  Tempers ran short.  Things that would usually be dismissed as the ways that happen simply because two-year olds are neither coordinated nor particularly aware of what things look like when they are "put away" all of a sudden became world ending battles for control of what can and cannot be on the carpet.  The hills I chose to die on that day ranged everywhere from the fact he didn't' understand that it is not necessary to take out every crayon in order to use just one, to the times he would consistently stop the stories on his cd player to re-listen to the beginning over and over to just how much water could be in his cup. 

And before the 10:30 mark hit I officially loathed the title of "mom."  I didn't want to hear it anymore and it repeated more often than the first 6 minutes of Winnie-the-Pooh on the little black radio.  The things that got to me most is Soren would repeat "Mom" without even stopping when I responded "Yes?" or "What, sweetheart?" or finally "Oh for heaven's sake, WHAT?!?!"

He would say my name as if it was the newest version of Marco Polo without any of the fun of summer sun and swimming pools.  I tried everything to get him to stop.  I would kneel down to his level and look him in the eye and try and get him to tell me what he wanted.  I would stop whatever  I was doing and let him know I was there.  I tried ignoring him.  I tried telling him that if he said my name one more time without telling me why I was going to put him in timeout.  That particular threat was quickly followed with a smile and a "Mom?" and me stifling a scream and putting him in timeout because I needed to be in timeout more than him but he can't be trusted with an open dishwasher and I can at least be trusted enough to ignore it.

His relentless inquiry of me without any seeming sort of purpose punctuated by his infant brother's teething screams, I cracked and the well of tears came cascading down in rivers of self-doubt and shame-inducing judgment on my character, my ability to do this job and how ashamed I should be because I prayed for these boys, I wanted them so badly and now look at me, weeping over everything and nothing at all.  I texted my husband who has an amazing job with flexibility that allows him to come to the rescue of an undone mess of a wife and he said he would button up what he needed to and come home. 

As I sat, thankful for his understanding, willingness to help and ability to do so, one feeling crept over me more than anything.  I wanted to call my mom.  I wanted to call her and ask her to come over and give me a hug.  I wanted her to hop in the car and be over in a few minutes or even hours.  I wanted to call her and say "Mom" and have that be enough because the words for what was happening were failing me. 

I didn't call.  I knew she was at work and that a call from me that was simply long silences peppered with my inability to stifle my crying would make her more worried than was necessary.  The grown-up in me didn't want to bother her, didn't want to worry her and in fact as I'm writing this I'm hoping she's not worried or bothered by reading it. 

But as time has gone on and as that day has passed and the wisdom of hindsight, coupled with a few moments of reflection and a few glasses of wine, has begun to sink in.  I realize now that more than my grown-up need not to bother my mom, there was a lie that has followed me my whole life that prevented me from calling.  It is the unsubstantiated and unfounded lie that, to my mother, I am a bother.  Somewhere, my self-doubt let in a little script that has followed me around trying to make me believe the lie that she doesn't want to run over an help, that watching my kids grow up over Skype is enough, that the3 kids, 3 children-in-laws and  8 grandkids she has within driving distance are all she needs.  The same lie says she doesn't desperately long to hear me call her name within the halls of the home we shared for  18+ years.  The same lie tells me that my siblings don't like me as much as each other.   The same lie will not shut up as long as I listen.

And oh, how I have listened.  I listened through years of teenage angst and early-twenties pride.  I listened as God told Noah and I we would move to Washington and that we wouldn't be "home" in Minnesota for the foreseeable future.   I let it corrupt holidays and trips home, I let it prevent me from calling my siblings just to check in.  Somehow, the lie that essentially has told me I could do it myself and then shamed me when I couldn't, has convinced me that not bothering my mom is the "adult" thing to do.

But if I had called, she would have taken the call.  She would have let me cry, she would have worried the way only a mom worries , worry that is more heavy-laden with love and the desire to help than with pity or impatience.  She would have told me I can do it, that she had a hard time too.  She probably would have cried with me a little.  She would have told me she loved me and when the phone call was done she would have prayed furiously.  She would have prayed that I would have peace, that Jude would calm down, that Soren would be sweet and that Noah would have the words to help.  She would have prayed that the ticket prices from Grand Forks to Seattle would dramatically drop so she could get on a plane the next day.  She would have called me back later that night to see if I was OK.  She would have been the mom I needed.  The mom whose name I just wanted to call out a hundred times simply to hear the reassuring response that she was there.  Because she is, and has always been, a good mom.

So, maybe, Soren just needs to know I'm there.  Maybe, when he can't see me, he calls my name to reassure him that I have not left nor will I ever leave him alone.  Maybe he just likes having me around and even though he could string together long and descriptive sentences to describe what he's doing, or what he's looking at or what he needs, he'd rather just get my attention by calling my name and knowing I'll look up.



And maybe, I'm the mom he needs. 

I'd love to say this time of reflection means I'll never be annoyed at the incessant "mom" droning that will inevitably happen, but I know I will be.  I just hope that when the day comes where I long desperately to hear his voice call my name, that he knows I am here, that he is not a bother and that I will take his call.

I also hope the airfares between Grand Forks and Seattle get cheaper soon.

I love you, mom.