Always Love Me
We’re inside lolling on the living room floor, seeking respite from summer’s full blast when I tell the kids (who’ve just given birth to their own babies: twin ducks for Rose and a healthy baby bear for Col!) that they will always be my babies. They clamor for my lap and I pretzel them into the small, soft space. “When you grow up and leave home you’ll still be my babies,” I pledge to their upturned faces beaming on me like small flashlights. “Even when you’re my age and you have your own kids, you’ll still be my babies.”
They smile even though they can’t think beyond next Thursday when I promised them they could bring frozen juice to the river. Rose’s current, greatest aspirations are to chew gum and use an electric toothbrush. The past is a blurry story which the kids grasp like a waterfall through their outstretched hands. “Was Daddy your Daddy too?” Col asked me recently.
These kids are so tethered to the present moment, they should teach the next round of mindfulness retreats for upstart Sri Lankan monks. They lean towards optimism and honesty like flowers twisting towards the sun. Yesterday Col told me matter-of-factly “Rosie’s new thing to get what she wants is just to grab you.” Rose corrected him: “I only do that to Col.” And then they scampered off to play.
I am holding them on my lap, gathering up legs and arms when Col throws his head like an anchor at my pillowy stomach and says “just love me Mama. Can you just love me?”
That, my boy, is the easiest thing in the world.
But what I want to ask is “will you always love me? And will I always recognize it?”
When you’re fifteen Col, and reeking of hormones and you’ve outgrown my lap and you slip through the house with a posse of friends speaking a secret language I can’t decode, will I recognize the love in your quick nod my way before you thunder down the stairs?
And Rose, in ten years when you live behind a slammed door and my very breathing annoys you, will I catch the love and trust in your voice when you share with me a personal tidbit from your boarded-up life?
Last week, Dan and I found on our mismatched, respective bedside tables, one raspberry each. Col picked them while riding bikes with our downstairs neighbor Sage. He carried the tiny, fragile fruits home in his pocket, and left them where we’d find them. The raspberries were underripe, sour at first taste, though underneath was a fresh and rewarding sweetness.
Maybe that’s all we can hope for – that underneath the untold storms of parenthood, there lay a fresh and rewarding sweetness.