It took me a decade after mom died, and having 2 kids of my own, to get over my grudge against the month of May. The double whammy of her birthday coupled with Mother’s Day, and May was as flat and grey as this photo.
The day was overcast and rainy. Mom drove north to Maine, rather than driving south from New Hampshire toward home, because she just needed to see the ocean. Walking into the sand, she hung her bag on the tree that stood on the rocky edge of the beach.
Like this photograph, there’s not much to the story. Like hanging her purse on the tree, it was just a very “Mom” thing to do. But I have never lost the feeling of this moment, even when I thought the photo itself had been lost to time.
Learning to be a mother, without my own alive to talk to, I often focused on what was missing. Last year I realized I had to find my way back to what I was lucky enough to have. I also had to find a way to make that monumental task a bit less daunting. Since they say the way to tackle something difficult is to start small, I made a point of recalling the little things.
As parents I think we all know those glittering, exceptional moments when the gauze slips over your vision and you want the world to just stop and let you soak in all the undeniable perfection. No one crying, everyone giggling, contentedly enjoying the same slice of time. I live for those moments. Or maybe it’s that I live in them? Either way.
Do you ever stop to ponder if your kids recognize that same moment? Does it imprint on their brains the way it does ours? Lately I wonder more and more – what mental snapshots are they taking?
I have vivid memories of watching rain splatter on the suburban streets of my youth. Sitting with my mom in the hatchback of our car, garage door open, waiting for the lightning flash so we could count until the thunderclap hit us. Sometimes we’d be snuggled in blankets, huddled close. Usually there was no real conversation. We were just listening. Together.
My 5yo son also has a vivid memory. He loves to recount the adventures we’ve taken; he’s partial to the times we’ve checked out the vacancies in our apartment building. He and his little sister love tearing around the empty rooms, playing hide & seek in closets, their squeals bouncing off the bare walls. Twenty years from now will he still be delighted in this perk of being the Super’s kid?
My Boy. Most days he wakes up before the Sun, the sound of his heavy footfalls on the bunk bed steps are amplified by the monitor that still sits by my bedside. Truly, he sounds like a small elephant crashing through any dream world I might be in.
Although I curse his complete inability to sleep until after dawn, I already miss the way he used to barrel into our bedroom, bounding onto my side of the bed. “Look Mom! It’s the sunrise! The Sun is rising!” Grabbing my phone to check the time, I got into a habit of taking a photo to post on Instagram later, even as I’d whisper, “Yes! Isn’t it a beautiful start to the day?” Then I’d try to coax him to lie down for a few more minutes.
Now, avoiding Mommy trying to get him to rest more, he heads to the living room; I find myself reluctantly rising to joining him on the couch, hoping to play the scene out there instead.
Let’s be honest, as this kid gets older I am learning I need to take my cuddles when & where I can get them.
So as we sit quietly in the dark, our sleepy eyes dazzled by the Sun’s bright orange light rising over the skyline, I can’t help but wonder if all these mornings of cuddling up will blend together. Leaving only the gauzy memory of a picture perfect sunrise.