I hear a loud bang, and then my daughter’s voice calling me from the kitchen. “Mommy, I need you!”
We are trying to get out the door for nursery school, but my daughter has been stalling all morning. I reluctantly put down her backpack, my diaper bag and the keys next to the front door.
When I enter the kitchen, I see her small body sprawled out on the floor with her princess dolls scattered around her. Their colorful dresses in vivid contrast against the dark brown of the floor.
“Can you help me carry my princesses?” she asks.
I sigh, but hold my hands out. She places each of the plastic dolls carefully in my grasp. They feel flimsy when my fingers wrap around them. My daughter, carrying nothing, skips to the front door. I gather everything that I had deposited on the brown welcome mat and we head outside.
I lock the door behind us and turn around to see my daughter reaching her arms up.
“Mommy will you carry me?” she asks looking at me with pleading eyes.
Of course, I think to myself, but instead I respond, “I can’t carry you – my hands are full.” It is less than ten feet to the car.
My daughter stands still, insisting that she cannot walk. I deposit the bags in the car and come back to scoop her off the brick walkway. She feels light in my arms, as if I am carrying pure joy.
Since the moment I brought my colicky daughter home from the hospital, motherhood has consumed me. Between the trouble latching, the lack of the sleep and the overwhelming sense that I had no clue about what I was doing, I felt that she was sucking me dry.
When my daughter was a few weeks old, I managed to get us both dressed and to the pediatrician’s office. I paced around the sterile room, with my daughter’s small head resting on my shoulder, while we waited for the doctor.
As soon as the doctor came in, I begged for any advice to help with her colic. He shrugged. “The only solution to colic is to outgrow it,” he said. I felt panic rising in my throat; the idea of another sleepless night in the glider made me want to cry.
When the doctor saw my anxiety, he offered me several potential solutions, but they were all remedies that I had already tried: gas drops, gripe water, swaddling, a pacifier, the football hold. As I walked out of the pediatrician’s office, all I could envision were the months of sleepless nights ahead.
Those newborn days swallowed me whole.
She is two and a half now, and I still find motherhood to be all consuming, but in different ways.
My daughter wants all of me: my attention, my hand, my time, my privacy and my lap. I give it all to her, without hesitation, because I don’t know any other way.
The reward is this: when I offer myself to her, she takes me exactly as I am: imperfect, messy and full of love. She takes all of me.
I notice this even more so on the days when I am haggard or fighting a cold or simply exhausted. Even when I have little to give, she is just happy to sit next to me, her hand in mine on the sofa.
It is a late January afternoon and already dark and cold. I curse the winter, but open the refrigerator to find there is nothing for dinner.
“Do you want to go to the supermarket?” I ask my daughter. She is fully engaged in a puzzle, but looks up excitedly. “Yes, I want to go to the supermarket, with Mommy!” she exclaims while gathering up her shoes and socks.
It’s always like this – she is just happy to be with me. For her, this is enough. I am enough.
I remember this. I remember this on the days when she sucks me dry with her demands and I collapse in bed right after she goes to sleep. I remember this when she is mid-tantrum and it is not even 8 am. I remember this when she throws her dinner on the floor and asks for something else.
Some would say that my daughter is lucky that I give her so much of myself; but I know I am the lucky one because she embraces all of me, with all of her heart. It is an extraordinary gift to be loved so fiercely and to be so wanted, just as you are.