Children are the anchors that hold a mother to life. – Sophocles
I don’t know if this week will flash in front of me in my final moments. I hope it will. It is the week I understood what saves me.
My daughter was on Spring Break during these last five days of March. In the past, I’ve always struggled with her days off from school, channelling all my energy on filling her empty space with playdates, outings, and time at the park. Part of it is compensation for having just one child. I never want her to feel alone. The other part of it is providing a distraction for both of us. It meant that I wasn’t solely responsible in entertaining her. Another factor, I’m certain, is my aversion to silence. My husband and my mom always tell me, “Rudri, you just don’t know how to sit.” In some very real ways that is true, when we are all eating dinner, my thoughts are on the quickest way to get the dishes cleaned. As a result, I am the first one up as soon as I’m done eating, my hands are under the sink, washing the dishes, while everyone else is still eating. I’m notorious for being hooked into technology, either the iphone or my computer, while doing other things. It is obvious that I’m addicted to being busy, but I’m uncertain on why this is the case.
My original plan of “busy” wasn’t going to work with my daughter because she decided to appoint it “Momma and Me” week. I was a little apprehensive when she first mentioned it. What did Momma and me week really mean? And what was my role in her plan?
She really just wanted me to play with her. I confess that I’m attentive to taking care of my daughter’s needs, but playing with my daughter is not something that comes naturally to me. I rationalize that I am doing everything else for her, so she can play on her own or with my husband or her grandmother. But, I learned, she really was starving for me to do things with her, not for her. We spent Monday coloring together, drawing pictures for one another, played Memory and crafted bead necklaces to decorate our necks. I sat with her and a couple of times I caught her smiling at me. I know she was thinking that Momma was finally playing with her. Not once did she cry, ask to go anywhere, or clamor for anything else. The following few days, we made puzzles together, perused the aisles of the bookstores, went to the zoo, and went for a “Momma and me” lunch together.
As we were eating lunch, I looked over at her. It was the first time I remember sitting, embracing the current space I was in and I recall not being in a hurry to do anything else. She was smiling at me, asking me about when her lunch would come. She uttered the words, “Momma, we are going to eat together. I don’t want Momma and me day to be finished.”
I tried to choke back my tears. I realized for the first time that moment is what saves me.
Do you “play” with your child? Have you shared some memorable conversations during that time? What saves you?