Monday 3 February 2014

Mothering Full Circle

He's two and a half. He has most of his teeth by now. Maybe all of them. I'm not sure because I haven't ventured to put my fingers in his mouth to count. He's biting. A lot. Mostly me. I try to follow his reasoning - is he mad? bored? excited? frustrated? He's all of those things. Often simultaneously. Two year olds have a lot of feelings.

I envision myself to be the mom who stops everything to have a genuine chat about what's causing the biting. We will get to the bottom of it. No yelling. No crying. We'll hug it out and laugh about it. But, well, you know - toddlers. Lots of people are giving me lots of good advice. Some of it is working.

But what do I really need? What I really need is a break. A real one. Not for five minutes and not for an hour. But for several days in a row. And that's the thing with parenting isn't it? The hardest job in the world. The most important job in the world. But if it's a job where are the vacation days? Everyone needs a vacation now and then don't they?

And that's probably why grandparents were invented. Those wondrous people who have been there. Who get it. And who aren't too exhausted running after their own children to run after yours.  So I pack up the boy and head "home" to the place that really isn't home anymore but always sorta will be. He's thrilled of course. Bobo and Ba's house would rival Disney World in his eyes. If he knew what Disney World was.

My parents have probably the world's best couch for lounging. You really shouldn't ever sit on it if you have any plans for the rest of the day. As deep as a single bed it seduces naps from even the most ardent non-napper. My body sinks into its embrace and before long I'm curled on my side and a blanket mysteriously appears to cover me from head to toe. In the distance I hear my son yell "Again Ba! Again!" My father, the one with arthritis in his knees, is running around the room with a green table cloth fastened at his neck as a make-shift cape. Dun-dun-da-da! Mac squeals with delight. I roll over.

I wake from my nap to the smell of Mom's potato leek soup simmering on the stove. Mac is in the kitchen by her side. His little body is up at her level thanks to the aid of a kitchen chair under his feet. He's "helping." Which, I know, means he's slowing down the whole process. But I don't think she minds. I pretend to keep sleeping.

Three days pass and I've had my fill of soup. A whole double batch mostly on my own. The soup and the couch and the mothering. They've all done their work on my soul and I'm renewed. I hold my boy on my lap and stroke his hair. I drink in his scent and kiss his cheek. A few days of being mothered and I'm ready to mother again.

We linger for a moment at the door as we say our goodbyes - my mother and me. I'm about to thank her for all that she's done when she beats me to the punch.

"Thank-you for coming." Her eyes are wet and she reaches out for a hug. "It's been so nice having you here to mother." Funny how things come full circle. I know there will be a day in the future when I'll yearn so badly for an opportunity to mother my grown son instead of yearning for an opportunity to take a break from it.

I laugh a little. "Thank-you," I reply. "I really needed this." And she smiles. Because she knows. She's been there too.

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