So. As of this week, it's been two years since you passed away.
I'd like to believe that you are in a better,
brighter place, keeping an eye on us. But since I don't, perhaps it's
time for an update.
The Arbiter of Justice, as we call her, is three and a half (or, as she
will tell you, "three and eight-twelfths"), and she is a ball of boundless energy. She has the most
wonderful imagination, and she's smart—so smart, in fact, that I
sometimes forget she's a preschooler and treat her like the eight-year-old
she will one day (too quickly) become. Although there is the usual
arbitration over toys and competition for attention, she is
surprisingly patient and loving with her younger sister—probably more
than I ever was.
Our little Destructor will be one-and-a-half next week and is entirely
her own little person, talking up a storm and making her opinions quite
clear. She is an affectionate child—the kind who will climb into your
lap for a cuddle or nestle her head in the tangle of your hair, to feel
the warmth of your neck and the steady beat of your pulse. Of course,
she adores her big sister and follows her everywhere.
As I look at my girls—one with eyes like blueberries and the other,
like pools of melted chocolate—I sometimes have this uncanny feeling
of deja vu. I've been here before, once upon a time. Only you were the
mother, and my sister and I were the blue- and brown-eyed girls. Now
I'm the mom. I am you.
That's not to say I'm as good at it as you were. But I just want you to know: I get it now.
I can imagine what it was like for you to put your career on
hold and stay home when my sister and I were small (a sacrifice you made
for me, I know, because I was a preemie and you worried about my
development). How we must have tried your patience; how many times you must have bitten your tongue, squeezed your fists and thought, This
too shall pass. I understand how hard it was for you, when you did go
back to work, to rush home to get dinner on the table, clean up the
kitchen, throw in a load of laundry, get us bathed and in bed, and
accomplish all of the other myriad tasks that no one really wants to do
but that must nevertheless be done. I understand now how you must have
craved time to yourself; how you must sometimes have wished for nothing more
than to be alone.
And I understand, too, the anticipation of seeing those small, earnest
faces burst into smiles as they run to greet you when you walk
through the front door. The joy at hearing that wonderful word "mama" for
the first time, which never gets old. The tidal wave of love for your
children that overwhelms you in the smallest, most unremarkable
moments but is always there beneath the surface, a vast and endless sea.
I wish I could have told you all of this when you were still alive. But
since I can't tell you, I'll have to settle for telling other mothers. Mothers who, like me, are only human—who make mistakes
and who sometimes struggle, too—but who still wake up the
next morning determined, ready to keep going. To try again.
I get it. I understand. This frustrating, terrifying, glorious and awe-inspiring experience of motherhood binds us together.
And, of course, binds me to you.