Hello and welcome to Mother's Day Eve, the Saturday before Mother's Day, here at the Wannaskan Almanac. Today is May 8th.
On this Mother’s Day Eve, I’ll be spending the day with my own mother who I haven't seen in nine months. Knowing that many of you will be visiting your mothers virtually or spiritually, I feel incredibly blessed to be able to see my own in person.
I’m equally blessed to have eager kids who can’t keep secrets or wait for surprises because on Wednesday this past week, the Mother’s Day presents were already getting doled out. (Who am I to curb their enthusiasm?)
The Third Grader gifted me a succulent planted in a brown-painted Styrofoam cup (to make it look like a plant pot, she explained). The Kindergartener had a bag of candy he eagerly ripped open. “Is this for me?” I asked. “I don’t know,” he answered. Then he said something about a piñata (I still don’t have the full story) as he divvied the Tootsie rolls up among his family members. He announced that he had a plant at school that he would be bringing home on Friday.
On Thursday, the Third Grader slyly slinked into the house and placed a large, bright purple, pink, and teal paper-mâché flower in a matching vase on the coffee table in the TV room. “Is this for me?” I asked. “Yeeeees,” she answered, her voice shy, her eyes shining with delight. Even my husband uttered my favorite words, “I have a surprise for you,” and, like Santa Claus, pulled a package of cookies and a ginormous, yellow 38 oz. bag of peanut M&Ms out of a large, white fifty-pound sack leftover from his beer brewing grain. Yes, folks, it’s not even Sunday yet, and it feels like Christmas.
And I am happy. Not for presents – but for presence. (A phrase one of my aunts particularly enjoys.)
The pandemic has taught me something about mothering and it is this: What my children need most isn’t “I love you,” but “I see you.”
Yes, love is important, too. But the kids already know that I love them. The teenagers remind me of this regularly. “I love you!” I call out, as they head off to school, to which they call back, “I knooooooow,” their voices drifting over their shoulders, their eyerolls too far away to see but I know are there.
But do I see them? That is the reassurance they crave the most.
And not just looking at them, because I am usually pretty good about putting my face in their general direction when they are talking about their day, or friends, or homework - but really seeing them.
Yes, my dears, I see you.
To the Kindergartner – I see your smallness and cherish it. The last of my littles, I enjoy your little hands and feet and that sweet innocence and earnestness in your face. I look into your eyes and notice the shade of blue in your eyes looks gray and when the sun sparkles there is a fleck of aqua that reminds me of my own father's eyes. It’s true, like any parent, I get easily distracted and have a lot on my mind, but when you place your hands on my cheeks, turn my face and implore, “Mom, full-body listening,” I silently thank you for the reminder and give you my all.
To the Third Grader – You are the embodiment of love. If love could look like a person, it would be you. Your dark brown eyes filled with passion, determination, and worry. Hugs are your anchor and when I embrace you I imagine filling your being with a lifetime of hugs. Like your favorite animal the cat, you curl your body into mine, wrapping your arms around my waist reminding me of my own girlhood pleas of “Hold me, rock me, cuddle me,” which I am more than happy to do.
To the WAKWIR* – Towering above me, I see your goodness. Through all the Minecraft chatter, I sift and discover your interests, your strengths, your personality. You have the gift of gab like your mother and woo that wins me over. I see your bounce, but I also see your depth. Your mind soberly churns and turns as you read the newspaper, follow the tweets of your favorite YouTubers, and think about the issues plaguing the world at large.
To the Second Oldest – I see your struggle. As you sit on the cusp of adulthood, I see your worry and uncertainty. I see the affliction of choice – to do what is right. I see that you need me now just as much as you did when you were a toddler. Maybe more.
To the Oldest – I see you loving your life. I also see those dark circles under your eyes and am ready to catch your tears when the stress of finals week hits you. I see your drawing talent and believe that your artistic gift will fold easily into your engineering pursuits.
To the cats – I see when you’re hungry and when you want to be scratched behind the ears. Or left alone. I see you are old and that our time is limited. So, yes, you can come inside the house. Fur and all.
To my husband – I see how parenting drives you crazy with worry, frustration, and love. Don’t worry. I’ve got your back.
To other parents – We are in this together. I see you try. I see you worry if you are doing enough. Our successes and failures rise and fall together. I see the community we shape in this next generation.
And feel optimism for their future.
On This Day
* Wannaskan Almanac Kid Writer-in-Residence