My husband was at work when it happened and couldn’t leave. Plus, someone needed to care for our kids. So, it was my mother who drove me from my doctor’s office to the hospital where they admitted me and my mother who sat by my bedside for three days while they ran test after test.
I am a 27-year-old woman with two children of my own, but I could have been a 10-year-old girl for those three days in the fierce way that I needed my mother. It was a longing for security and comfort I hadn’t felt in a long time, but one I experience daily with my son and daughter. I feel it in the way their bodies relax against my own when I gather them into my arms after they wake crying from a bad dream. I hear it in wails reduced to whimpers as I brush off skinned knees and reassure them their wounds aren’t mortal.
My very presence brings them solace and, in a way, I’m addicted to that, to being needed, to being a soothing force in their lives. I often lament the passage of time and milestones as Danica and Anders age, but before that hospital stay I badly misjudged what it was that kept me constantly longing to freeze time.
I thought it was the thinning of their chubby baby cheeks or the pile of sweet-smelling onesies forever outgrown and that is a part of it, but at the core it is a fear that I will no longer be a place they call home, that with autonomy comes alienation.
As I laid in that hospital bed while my mother combed out my tangled hair, matted with the sweat of a broken fever, an act weakness and IV lines rendered me temporarily incapable of, it dawned on me that the longing for one’s mother in trying times never ceases. It transcends the ages and stages of life. I am and will always be one bad day, one minor (or even major) disaster away from experiencing that deep-rooted desire to call my mother, to sit with her at her kitchen table and vent, or even collapse into tears in her arms.
Being a good mother is a promise. One that is often whispered in the early years, sometimes shouted in the tumult of adolescence and, once our children reach adulthood, takes the form of an embrace when we’re allowed, a word of wisdom, a long-distance phone call in the evening hours.
We can no more outgrow our mothers than we can outgrow feelings of fear or insecurity. These feelings are a natural part of life, almost as natural as the ease with which the sound of our mother’s voice makes them just a little bit more bearable.
Photo credit: iStock
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