everything but the girl

a number of my eldest son’s friends are turning 5 lately and he, overhearing conversations about kindergarten, observing my friends emote at the significance, and intuiting the maturation around him, is well aware that this birthday is not like the others; that it is distinctive, that milestones abound.

not surprisingly, he has begun to look at his own (one day) 5th birthday with idealized regard and now reconciles everything that he covets but that is out of reach- special events, activities, freedoms, repeat opportunities to go on excursions via plane- by saying, albeit unconvincingly, “maybe when i’m five”.

despite the tentative tone, it works and he has somehow been able to manage his lofty expectations with this simple reminder, however inaccurate. unfortunately (for me) his regular wantedness, his daily basis neediness, continues to know no bounds and he starts many common sentences with a demanding: “i want”.

i was washing dishes this morning, early, already feeling desperate after a week of him sick and our life therefore tabled, multiple days restricted to the four walls of our home, when he started in at me: all the things he wanted, how he wanted them done. his father is away, mourning  the life of a relative, and, therefore, it doesn’t matter that it’s saturday. it’s just me here. here with them; their requests.

i didn’t reply, which had no impact on his behaviour but assisted me to feel somewhat grounded, empowered even- such a subtle act of resistance.

not one to back down, he persisted. baby, teething, made his gentle way in to the kitchen from where he played near by. “mum mum mum” he muttered, approaching where i stood, signaling he too had a desire for me to provide any number of things: milk, attention, comfort, entertainment, reprieve.

i found myself looking up at the ceiling and was confronted by it’s unglamourous, entry level appearance- not helpful- and thought briefly of shaking the clawing paws off my ankles, brushing past the talking machine, and making my exit: down the stairs and out the front door, away from all that is expected of me, complete with my yet untouched morning coffee.

instead, i found myself doing what i recall having witnessed my mother do, and with closed eyes, pursed lips, and taught breath, i hush-growled to the white roof: “lord, give me strength”- more of a threat then a prayer.

when i opened my eyes, i hadn’t yet found the courage to turn to my eldest but i bent to retrieve baby, moaning now, and was impressed with just how quickly he settled once stationed on my left hip. so simple, so primary, so generous in his acceptance of what is.

i heard myself think, and then say “we can’t have everything that we want”, mostly in effort to remind myself of the same, it would seem.

“but, look at me momma! i want you to look at me! watch me momma! do you see me?”. it seemed as though my statement was mistaken for participation and he was encouraged…

“do you see me?”, i replied in all seriousness, turning to him, finally. he looked confused. “do you?” i implored.

“of course i do mamma, don’t be silly”, he offered, confused.

the question was lost on him.

he can’t see my master’s degree, begging for completion. he doesn’t see my muscles, screaming for a run. he doesn’t see my brain, dehydrated, thirsty for adult company, conversation, camaraderie. he doesn’t see my skin, itchy for lack of sleep. he doesn’t know the sacrifices that i make and what goes undone on my own list of wants so that he and his brother, both beyond deserving, can have a life complete. he sees his mother, and she’s pretty great, but he just doesn’t see me.

maybe when he’s five?

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3 Comments to “everything but the girl”

  1. Oh I have so muttered that prayer/threat “Lord give me strength” before! Haha.

  2. Oh Momma, I feel your pain. My hubby went away for 6 days last week and it left me feeling drained and just a little bit inadequate…stay strong Momma!

  3. Once again… love. Oh and I hear you. That’s what I love about your writing, you always say the things that I cannot put into words.

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