Just before 4:00 this morning, Will let out a huge “Mommy!” wail, followed closely by some crying mixed with other, smaller calls for Mommy. I waited a beat, as he occasionally calls out and then settles immediately back down, but it became quickly apparent that this was not one of those times. I was up, robed, and off to his room.
Opening his door, I found him standing up in bed, frowning and clutching his Gamby (blankie), staring at me expectantly. He put his arms out toward me, grabbed on, and said, “Sit. Chair.”
We moved across the room to his rocking chair, his legs around my waist and arms around my neck, his head nestled in below my chin. I sat and he didn’t move, just snuggled in closer. We rocked for a few moments, and I listened to his breathing settle into a regular rhythm. The lavender smell of his shampoo rose off his warm head and the heat of his small body wrapped around me. “Mommy,” he murmured happily.
The power of being the parent is awesome. The trust this child holds in me is infinite. For whatever reason—too much ice cream, the few minutes he watched of the Wizard of Oz, a bad sleeping position, whatever—he woke up and called for me, knowing I would come, and the mere fact that I arrived and picked him up was enough. I sat and breathed in his wonderful baby scent, overwhelmed by the feeling of being the center of someone else’s world.
You work so hard to prepare for the arrival of a child. You choose names and stock cupboards and research which diaper pail is the best. You read the books and eat the right foods and put headphones playing classical music on your belly. You listen to your friends and family and total strangers in the supermarket as they guess if you’re carrying a boy or a girl and then dispense advice on every aspect of pregnancy and childbirth and child raising. You watch in wonder as your stomach, of its own volition, heaves from left to right and pokes out in foot-shaped patterns at odd angles. You spend inordinate amounts of time thinking about what kind of parent you want to be, and what you hope for your child. You worry, and worry, and worry some more. And then, then—they hand you your child and for a few moments all rational thought disappears out the window as you stare at this tiny being for whom you are entirely responsible.
The other night, while at Carla’s mother’s house for a holiday celebration, Will spent a lot of time playing with a kid’s kitchen set. He wasn’t content to just play, though. There was a lot of, “Mommy—watch cook. Mommy, see play. Mommy—my turn.” He wasn’t happy unless I stayed right there, watching him stir and open and pour and serve. On a covert trip to the kitchen for some appetizers, I recounted Will’s need for an audience. Marge, Carla’s mom, laughed and said, “That never goes away, Jennifer. Carla STILL wants me to sit in her kitchen and watch her cook!” We all laughed, but the truth of the statement was not lost on me.
I am 35 years old, and I look to my mother all the time for advice and support and friendship and guidance. I’ve done so all my life and never given a second thought to the fact that she’s there for me. How strange to suddenly be on the other end of that relationship. To look at Will and realize that I am for him what she is for me. I can only hope I’ll be as good at it as my own mother is.
After a few more minutes in the rocker, I leaned down and whispered, “Are you ready to get back in your beddy with Gamby and Doggie and Eeyore?” He nodded, and we crossed the room back to his crib. I picked up MoGamby (his other blanket), and handed it to him. He crushed both up near his face and smiled at me as I placed him gently on his mattress. He immediately turned, settled in, and drifted off to sleep again.
So far, I guess I’m doing okay.