I sighed in exasperation as I peeked in the doorway to her bedroom. 20 years old and she still can't make her bed before she leaves for work in the morning.
I laugh sheepishly as I peek in my own bedroom doorway at my own unmade bed. I shrug. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree says my friend Holly. Hell, the apple ain't even OFF the tree!
I read another bloggers heartfelt post about her younger kids messily made beds and how she can choose to be irritated or sentimental about the lack of tight even corners and straight aligned edges on the beds they've made all by themselves. And I think about how it's been a year now since I've had the opportunity to be either irritated OR sentimental about my own younger kids and their bed making talents.
I remember the mornings of "before" - when I would arrive home after driving my youngest to school and set about making beds, gathering laundry, folding, straightening, fluffing, piling; and inevitably sighing, griping, rolling my eyes as I did so - and on a good day weaving in a blessing and a prayer for each child as I did the scut work that is hand in hand with mothering.
Now - well, now is not "before", now is sooo very "now". I try very hard to appreciate "now" because I know all too well the concept of Perspective and also the concept of Like Vs Like. What I have is what I have and I could have less (like so many others) or I could have much more than some (comparatively) so I try to accept and bless and enjoy what IS, and what is NOW instead of dwelling on "before". But it's hard.
Thinking about the simple act of making beds, and the lack of opportunity to do so leads to the bitter inescapable truth that I have also not had the opportunity to tuck my children in their beds. In a year.
A years worth of missed bedtimes: the loss of whispered secrets between my daughter and I, the loss of intimate moments of truth and discovery between my son and I, the lost moments of tenderness, tickling, teasing, teaching. An entire year, and then some, of nights that can't be recovered - nights I didn't pull the blankets up tight to my childs chin, seeing their eyes bright and full of light peeking over the quilt edges in the sharp winter air... nights I didn't turn the fan on a notch higher, crack the window a little more, and kiss a warm flushed cheek in the humid summer stillness... nights I didn't return time and time again to lay a knowing palm on a fevered forehead, determining if it was time for fever reducing medicine or time to let it burn itself out still... nights I didn't come upon a wide eyed pre-teen consumed with some pre-teen trauma that needed deconstructing, listening, encouragement. So many nights missed, so much growth stunted, so much loss.
Not just for me - oh, my loss is as relatable as the mouth-watering-feet-running-in-place feeling you get when you bite the inside of your cheek while chewing your dinner; but their loss, my kids loss, which I can't even begin to try and imagine. When I think about nights they cried and I wasn't there to hold them, nights they were scared and I wasn't there to chase away the fear, nights they were troubled and I wasn't there to shine a light - nights when they missed their momma and I wasn't there - it makes my stomach churn as if I were in serious trouble with the law, as if I were witnessing an act of brutality that others were laughing at, as if I were being held down forcibly while awaiting random acts of torture. My stomach turns itself inside out when I think about what my children have gone through this past year.
And when I read about or listen to the tale of another momma who is feeling overwhelmed by the work involved in parenting - I feel so much more like reaching out and smacking them with a dose of harsh reality than smiling sympathetically and getting that warm fuzzy blog-sistah feeling.
I can still remember the way it felt to face another morning of unmade beds, socks stuffed under a pillow, and wet towels behind the closet door. Before... but my current reality is the constant ache of missing my own heart, the emptiness inside of not having my full breath, the grief and loss of what is, essentially, the death of all I ever knew. My reality now is getting up every day and smiling, laughing, loving - because while I have lost a full year of my children, there is still a future ahead of us and I am still, in spite of it all, The Mom. I may have missed a year of bedtimes and bedmaking but I have had just enough to sustain me (and them) of laughing with my children, whispering secrets, getting through a disagreement, working through an angry moment, assigning a chore, sharing a private joke, having a memory of an event that is JUST ours to have, and other small but valid and important mommy moments.
Just... just, don't let the small things get you down and pass you by because what you have is what I would give up my eyesight for - what I would willingly and eagerly give a body part for - a bedtime, a morning of sighing over unmade beds, another load of dishes or mismatched socks, I would trade you my own internal organ just to have that as part of my life NOW.
Perspective. You see?
And now, because I am still the mom, I have to go and set up a new bed, pull up the blankets over an empty mattress, and bless the space that is available. A mom doesn't give up, doesn't give in, and doesn't let the dark still night steal her soul - even if she wants to - because her kids are still there, still waiting. This mom won't be able to recover what is lost but she can create new moments out of potential.
I'm still the mom - a year later, I am still the mom. And you can't take that away from me.