Last week I had a craving to head to my hometown. To spend time in the house that I called home for two decades with the people who have loved me since my first day on Earth. It was such an intense craving that it rivaled the Wonderbar craving from month seven of my pregnancy. It was all consuming and had to be fulfilled. So I placed my two-month old son in his car seat, threw my one small bag on the front seat and proceeded to fill the trunk with the enormous amount of stuff that is apparently essential when caring for a newborn and hit the road. As we drove he fussed and the only thing that seemed to calm him was static radio played REALLY LOUD. So intense was my craving that I smiled while the car drove and the static blasted. The usual five and a half hour drive took over eight hours because I pulled the car over every time he cried. But I smiled nonetheless because I was on my way home.
As my car turned its wheels down the road I grew up on, something they had done plenty of times before, I realized that I was viewing the scene in a whole new way. I yelled over the static to Mac that we had arrived and that his Gramma and Grampa were already at the front door waving us in. I turned down the static and coasted up the driveway. Hugs and kisses and a few more hugs followed. Grampa tried to get his first and only grandson out of the car but decided that without an engineering degree he was unlikely to figure the contraption out. I freed the baby from his confines and he was quickly whisked away into the house for the rest of the family to inspect. Gramma stayed behind, to hug me one more time and thank me for coming home. As she hugged me I realized that just as I hug Mac feeling like everything that matters in the world can fit in my arms she was hugging her baby too.
Something changes in you when you parent a child. If you have ever talked to any person who has ever parented any child in the history of time you will have heard this statement. If you are not a parent yourself you will most likely find it obnoxious. And the line from the Garfunkel and Oats’ song Pregnant Women are Smug might run through your head “You’re just giving birth now. You’re not Mother Earth now.” I get that. I promise. But some things do change in you when you are given the opportunity to parent a child and one of those things is that you can, for the first time, truly begin to understand how much your own parents love you. That realization hit me in the middle of the night on my first week with Mac. As I smiled, happily changing his diaper at 3:00 AM, I was suddenly overcome by the understanding that there are people out there who love me this much. I always knew that my parents loved me. There was undeniable proof. But I think you need to feel that kind of love as a parent yourself before you can really grasp what it means. Unless you are Mac’s Auntie TaTa. I think that she loves him enough to understand precisely what I am saying.
So I hugged my mom a little longer than was our norm. And I smiled deeply when we pulled back and I looked into her eyes. I wanted to say thank-you but couldn’t figure out the words to adequately express my gratitude. Hours later as my parents kneeled on the floor cooing and making silly noises as their grandson laid naked on a towel kicking up a storm and smiling his big toothless grin I realized that bringing him to see them was probably the thanks they wanted most. So I sat back and drank a cup of tea, knowing that my son was in good hands and that my parents were busy enjoying the new kind of multiplied love that you must feel when your baby brings home her baby.
And just like it took three Wonderbars to satisfy my pregnant craving, it took three days at home to satisfy my parental craving. I could have easily ingested a fourth Wonderbar and stayed a fourth day but neither craving seemed as critical as it once had. So on the fourth day I packed my son and all of his gear back into the car and told him that his other mom was missing him too much for us to stay any longer. His grandparents kissed him good-bye with tears in their eyes and I hugged them extra long hoping that they got my message: I get it now. And thank-you.
|Are we there yet Mama?|
|We stopped long enough in Sturgeon Falls for him to mistakenly believe that the car ride was over and we were going to build a life there.|