I Am Someone’s Mommy
I’ve spoken before about how I often feel like an afterthought in my son’s eyes. How his Dad can do no wrong and I’m a pain in his ass. Sean’s the playmate. I’m the teacher. He’s the joy. I’m the heavy. My illness makes me weak and Sean seems like the most capable man in the world. His Dad shapes breakfast into starships and his Mom insists he put on shoes before we leave the house (the injustice!). I’ve come to accept that, for the most part, I’m lame and Sean’s cool. I don’t like it but, I’ve come to terms with it. He may love us both the same but, I can’t compete. I’m his rock but his Dad’s his Hero and a Hero throws a pretty large shadow.
The other night however, Lochlan was sick. Not crazy sick, just bad cold sick and it had been a long day so, after I put him to bed, I went to sleep myself. Sean was out and, when he got home, Loch woke up and started calling for me. Apparently, no matter what he did, Loch was still asking for me so, eventually, Sean came to wake me up. He apologized, saying he’d tried everything but, Loch just “really needed his Mommy.”
Here’s the thing, I’m an insomniac. Sleep is a struggle for me. When I’m already asleep, I REALLY hate getting up because once I’m up, I’m often up for hours. I’ve spent way too many nights just staring into the darkness worrying, writing notes, breaking down and trolling Facebook, counting the ever shrinking hours until I have to be out of bed again and, just waiting for the sleep that doesn’t come. It’s incredibly frustrating and I really do my best to avoid it at all costs.
I didn’t want to get out of bed that night. I didn’t want to be awake until 3am exhausted at home the next day with a sick child but, my baby was calling for me so, it didn’t matter what I wanted, I was going. I understood. Sometimes you just need your Mom.
He blew his nose and I gave him more cold medicine to break up the phlegm. I refluffed his pillows, straighten his sheets and flipped his blankets and, when he was finally settled, I sang. I sang the lullaby I’ve been singing to him since the first day he was born. I sang it soft and low while I patted his back and scratched his arm. He lay on his side, his little hand resting on my knee and I could feel his tiny shoulder blades through his t-shirt, the little hairs on his forearm, the impossibly soft skin on the top of his hand. I sang and sang and, finally, I just sat. I listened to him breathe. I listened to the sound of his stuffiness, to his little, muffled girggles and, then I made the disastrous mistake of asking if he wanted to blow his nose.
“Mom! You woke me up!!” (I didn’t). “You’re going to have to do it all over again but, this time when you’re done, don’t talk to me after ok?”
“Ok, babe. Sorry about that.” (He’s sick, I’ll give him a break on the tone he’s using.) “DO you want to blow your nose though?”
I started again. The singing, the back patting, the arm tickles but, this time, I became aware of how amazing the moment was. I’d passed the fresh out of bed, trying to get back to it phase. I was there now, awake, in it, and the intimacy of the moment, the warmth of being there in the dark with him, the satisfaction of being able to give him the affection he needed, it all overwhelmed me. I was struck by the fact that my love for him had become a tangible thing. A security blanket he craved. Something he needed to hold on to. My very presence was like a xynax for his soul. Despite all the hero worship, in this moment, it was me who made a difference. Me who was required.
The thing is, being diagnosed when Loch was 5 months old, I wasn’t sure I’d ever get to experience that feeling. It didn’t seem as if I’d be around long enough to ever really matter to him. To be remembered or, make any lasting impression on his life but, sitting there quietly on the side of his bed just allowing the song to settle, I recognized I’d made it. I’d lived long enough, and put in enough effort, to register as essential and, it felt amazing.
Eventually I took his hand off my knee, stood up, walked to his doorway and…
Tripped on his door stop.
“Sorry! Sorry Lochie! I didn’t see it.” (Ow. My toe.)
“Can you sing it again?” (It’s my own fault. Damn you rock.)
“Of course baby.”
I crossed back to his bed and sat down. I felt his little hand searching for my knee in the dark.
“When you’re done will you tuck me in too?”
“Do you want your arms under the blankets?”
“No, just my shoulder.”
“Ok, babe. I’ll do that.”
I wasn’t annoyed. I wasn’t tired. I wasn’t rushing to get back to bed. I knew I would be there for as long as he needed me. His little, pudgy fingers softly moved against the flannel of my pants as I started the song again and, this time, I found myself getting choked up. For all it’s efforts, being a parent is an incredible blessing. What an honor it is to be the person who can calm and improve a situation simply with your presence. How extraordinary to be the one looked to for help and guidance, the one who offers security and, in this case, how touching to be the one chosen. The one required above all others.
I sang the song two more times, even after I knew he was asleep, not wanting the moment to end and, every time I sang, the importance of my role grew on me. The repetition was a gift that allowed me to see the wonder.
I am Lochlan’s Mom and, no matter what ends up happening to me, I can say with all certainty that I mattered. That I made an impression on this small, wonderful boy’s life. To him I was irreplaceable.
Thank you Sean. Thank you Lochlan’s cold. Thank you stupid door stop. Thank you beautiful son. Thank you lovely and haunting “Bye Oh By Baby”.
I went right to sleep that night, a completely happy girl and, a totally fulfilled mother.
Blessings to you all.
Bahhhhhhhh!!!! Crying so hard right now. Ugly crying!!!!!!! And trying to nurse Georgia! Oh such an incredibly beautiful post Leigh!!!! Ammmmmmaaazing
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Thank you Wynnie! You are such a generous supporter of my stories. I appreciate it more than I can say! xo
What a beautiful observation.
Oh so beautifully put into words. As I started reading this I was thinking about my own son and how it’s the same thing as Dad is always the fun one while I am the homework nag or out taking care of our farm animals after homework and dinner instead of playing a board game. But I know when he needs cuddling and love, I am the one he wants. Even at 10 he will say to me during busy weeks “mom, we haven’t had any snuggle time” and I will let the animals wait another hour for their dinner to soak in that snuggle time!!
I can’t tell you how thrilling it is for me to hear your 10 year old still needs his snuggles and that you recognized fulfilling that request was infinitely more important than anything else in that moment. Its’ a gift to realize you really can stop for a second. You’re a good mama.
Leigh, this post absolutely touched my heart. Those beautiful moments between mother & child are incredibly precious ones. Although Sean does make a mean breakfast, I suspect Loch looks to you for so many things he needs in his life. Thank you for sharing this.
Thank you for always being so supportive Lynn. And, you’re right, he does make a mean breakfast!! xo
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You put into words what I always felt, but never tried to articulate. I always said to myself that if I never accomplished anything of great importance, at least I was a very good mother, and moments such as this were the evidence.
I try each day to slow down to take it all in…some days life’s craziness throws me off track, but just for a moment. That was so beautifully written. I so appreciate the honesty in which you write. Thank you
Thank you Luana. You’ve had more than your fair share of trials and those kind of things are bound to throw you off track. The point is to get back when you can or, at least, take the time to notice the wonder amongst the chaos. I think you do both exceptionally well. All my very best, xo leigh
I cried at this. You’re my daughter but you remind me of my mother. I love you. Dad.
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What a lovely thing to say Dad. I so wish I could have met her. It’s wonderful that you have such fond memories. I’m just sorry she was gone too soon. I love you. xo leigh
Your post brought me to tears. As a chronically ill mom (diagnosed with scleroderma in 2004 with severe lung complications manifesting in 2008) one of my constant worries is whether or not my children will have positive memories of me like you’ve just described or will they just recall me as their “sick mom” and remember all the struggles we’ve been through as a family. Fortunately, I’ve recenty had a successful double lung transplant and I currently recuperating away from my home and kids. I’m looking forward to my second chance at life and making new memories with my children when I return home. Cherish these special moments with your son. I wish you blessings and peace.
Oh Sue, I am so sorry you’ve had to deal with so much. I know from not being able to breathe and it’s awful. The diseases we have are debilitating but, so are the thoughts and worries of the “sick mom”. It’s unspeakably painful to not be who you want to be, all you want to be, because of an illness. To see your children looking at you as weak, when just existing takes so much strength. We want to be perfect and strong in their eyes (and memories) and it takes a lot of acceptance to realize the best we can do will just have to be enough. I wish you all the best in this, your second chance at life. I wish you strength and happiness and joy. I wish you lasting health. I pray your new lungs bring you to the life you dream. Blessings to the person who gave them to you and, blessings to your body for accepting them. Please keep me posted on your journey. I wish you God speed. All my love and best wishes, xo leigh
Reblogged this on The Controlled Kaleidoscope and commented:
I had to share this beautiful, heartfelt post. Being a Mother myself, I know exactly what she means and felt that. It doesn’t matter the age you are because you are someone’s Mommy and you will always be needed, even in memory.
Thank you Laili. And thank you for reposting. I hope it’s true that as a mother I will always be needed, even if it’s just in memory. xo
One day, when my son is older and able to complain about things, I hope I experience this too ❤️
Every time that I read one of your posts it hits me right in the feels. Basically everything that you said struck a memory chord in me. If it wasn’t 2:00AM over here I would call my mom and tell her that I love her.
You’re absolutely awesome.
PS: I’m an imsomniac too and this is by far the best writing I’ve come across while looking for sleep.
Prosodist, thank you. I hope you called your mom the next day. I need to do that more myself. Sorry about the insomnia. It’s the worst. Sweet dreams for your future. xo
I used to lament that it was just my son and me. But at the end of the day, it works really well. By the very nature of it being just us – I don’t get compared to daddy…My son knows I make it happen, he sees it, he gets how much I do…
It’s at Christmas when his father kinda ends up the rock star that I feel a little jilted – dad gets the expensive, slick presents that I can’t quite afford.. When he’s w/dad, it’s vacation, it’s a different world, so they do fun things, they eat out, go places, they do things I couldn’t afford, nor could I manage during the school year. And that can sting.
Your lil man loves you to the stars and back no matter what. So just remind him in a non-dramatic, respectful way of all you do, and how important you are. No sin in that. We’re here to give our kids honest information. We also have to encourage their sensitivity to others. You’re doin it all – and you’ve got the right to bitch about it when it feels hurtful and unfair. !! Being able to let it all out is one of the joys of having a blog, right?