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May 28

Tenderness

There is this incredible sweetness and beauty in raising children.  There is chaos and frustration and holy-moly-if-you-don’t-stop-whining-I’m-going-to-cry-right-along-with-you too, but last night, my twelve year old fell asleep with her head cradled on my chest and it was so achingly perfect.

It wasn’t a great night.  Heat, exhaustion, hunger – I don’t know what it was, probably a combination of all three – but my kids were absolutely miserable.  Fighting and squabbling non-stop, whining at me when they weren’t trying to kill each other.  I made Julie go to bed at seven (after she shouted at me while she was supposed to be brushing her teeth that she wished that she would never, never see Mama ever again).  Sam had passed out on the dining room floor – for no real reason.  I think he just wanted to be contrary – if I wanted him tucked safely into his bed, he wanted to sleep on the wooden floor in the middle of the dining room.

Jessie appeared to be sound asleep on Sam’s bed (WHY won’t they sleep in their own spots?) when I got out of the shower.  I shut off all the lights (except for the one in the dining room, because Marc wasn’t home yet, and I didn’t want him to step on the Boy).  After about ten minutes of blissful ALONENESS,  Jessie came stumbling into my bedroom.

She was miserable, congested, sleepy and couldn’t sleep.  She wasn’t feverish, just unhappy.  And when she laid down next to me, there was this little moment of perfection.  Her body fits to mine, in a way that it has since she was born.  She laid her little head down in her spot, just below my shoulder, and just sighed.  Like this was what she needed, just to be right there, in that moment, with her head on my shoulder and my hand rubbing her back.

There’s this incredible intimacy, in raising children.  It’s raw and it’s hard and it’s overwhelming.  But there is this sense, and it comes off and on, less often as they get older, that the two of you – parent and child – have this bond and connection that’s so intrinsic to who you both are.  She’s my baby, my first little girl, and she’s growing up so fast.  She’s closer to an adult than an infant now, and I love that.  She’s beautiful and brilliant and so incredibly sweet and funny and kind.  But this love, this bond, it has nothing to do with anything she does or says – it’s that she’s connected to me and I’m connected to her in a way that I can’t explain, and can’t express and can’t define.  She’s mine and I’m hers.

It’s not unique to her, I have the same connection with my Sammy and my Julie-girl.  But it is unique because it’s Jessie (in the same way that I love Sam because he’s Sam, and Julie because she’s Julie).  Jessie is Jessie and she’s stunning and wonderful and I’m a different Mama to her than I am to each of her siblings.  But with each one, there is this unbelievable beauty and tenderness that still takes my breath away.  And it’s a lovely counterpoint to the nights like last night, when I count the minutes until bedtime, when my baby girl fell asleep furious at me, and my son took perverse joy in trying my patience.

2 comments

  1. Georgia

    This so sweet and beautiful. Sadly, the last sentence brought me the most comfort of all that I’m not completely messing everything up. :)

    1. Melissa Cohen

      I always found comfort in that quote about motherhood – something about if you worry that you’re not doing it right, you probably already are a better parent then you think :-)

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