“Fiona, please stop jumping on me. Mommy doesn’t want to be jumped on right now.”
“It fun!” She resumes jumping on and off of my back as I lay on my bed trying to read the last five pages of my book.
“I know it’s fun, Baby.” I reread the same paragraph for the third time.”But, I’m not having fun. Mommy isn’t a toy. Mommy is a person. So sometimes Mommy doesn’t want to do what you want to do.”
“No.” She stops and grins at me.
“What do you mean, No?” I ask her feeling as though she must not be understanding what I’m telling her.
“No. Mommy not a person. Mommy a mama.” She smiles at me beautifully.
I bury my head in the bed and laugh. I feel like crying at the same time. It’s so true. Sometimes I feel like all of my time is spent on one thing then the next and all of it is about who I am to someone else.
When people ask her who I am, she smiles and says, “Mama [Lastnamehere].” I start to feel like that is my whole identity. Between certain hours I’m a wife. Between others I’m a mother. There is so precious little time that I get to just be me.
There’s a lot of me to be, too.
I paint. I garden. I knit. I make a mean omelet and can bake bread without a recipe. I can do differential calculus and have a degree in physics. I know what happens to an electron inside a particle accelerator, beyond the obvious – “it goes faster”, and why. I have a minor in psychology and can describe the exact shade of green that is the summer magic of sunlight through green maple leaves.
Finding the time to be all of those things is hard though. It’s work to find the motivation to do more than just collapse on the couch and stare at my toes when I do find a minute alone.
And, the truth is, I know that this is just a phase. It’s just a tiny stretch of time in a vast lifetime of experience. And just like everything else, good and bad, this too will pass. And I know I should be holding on to it with both hands.
It’s easy to forget that this is also a part of my identity. I can nurse a baby, and cook dinner. I can change a diaper in the dark. I can tell the difference between coughing and choking from two rooms away by the sound. I know how to love through a tantrum and how to be a dinosaur-butterfly.
I know the exact way to treat my husband when he’s sad, tired, cranky, or restless. I know that you don’t fight when you’re hungry and that some fights are worth having. I know that you ask once and leave it alone. I know that I love and am loved.
And, it would be easy, in the sense of injustice about not being able to be all of who I am at all times, to lose sight of all that I really am.
I am a person. I am a wife. I am a mother.