For Mothers, and Grandmothers, and Great-Grandmothers
In honor of mothers everywhere, but especially my delightful mother, and her irrepressible mother, who have taught me to laugh (and sometimes cry) my way through this crazy-wonderful ride they call motherhood . . .
It’s the little things I love the most,
the little things that make the good life good.
It’s brushing fingers with the boy-turned-man
I once begged God to turn my way,
And he smiles, twinkle-eyed,
And it’s still all for me,
and still my heart stands still.
It’s miniature pajamas hanging in an empty closet,
and I never thought
we’d have someone to wear them.
It’s the utter exasperation of
folding tiny mismatched socks
I thought I’d only buy for friends.
It’s my chubby alarm clock waddling in,
well before the dawn,
lisping, “Mommy, can I snuggle you?”
In she climbs, and she smells like strawberries
It’s a victory dance for that first-time triumph;
it’s a wacky dance
just ’cause we feel like dancing—
and the sillier we look,
and the faster we spin,
the harder we laugh,
and the better it feels.
It’s a monkey squeeze from a blue-eyed boy
who still begs Mommy to carry him,
and I’ll do it till my arms fall off
—which they may—
because I know it will end soon.
It’s the welcome sinking of the sun—just barely night—
and I’m so weary I can hardly cross
the toy-strewn tornado-zone
to collapse and prop up my aching feet,
but as I close my eyes,
I sigh a prayer of thanks,
and drink it in,
and promise never to forget,
never to squander
these little things.
She hobbles past, every step an effort, almost painful to watch—
ninety years of walking and breathing, loving and living, caught up to her at last.
But they haven’t won yet. Not yet.
Behind her, a younger woman—a just-greying reflection of the older—hovers,
keeps a protective hand on the woman’s bent and crooked back.
The mother turns her head our way, just for a moment.
Her blue eyes, muted and milky with time, somehow still sparkle;
her white hair glows in the light from the window.
She glances at the tiny blanketed bundle, snug in my arms,
breathing now these nine days.
“Enjoy your baby,” she says with a knowing smile, and shuffles on.
“I will. I do,” I say.
And watching them pick their way—slowly, slowly—
through the lobby, past all the pregnant bellies,
until they disappear with the nurse through the double doors,
I am reminded
that she had her turn,
and now it is mine,
and one day,
this warm, blinking bundle I carry and shield and adore
will walk behind me
and do the same for me.
Elizabeth works from home as a writer, editor, diaper changer, baby snuggler, laundry slayer, not-so-gourmet chef, kid chauffeur, floor mopper, dog groomer, and tantrum tamer. She is always tired, but it's mostly the good kind.