Mother: A unique specimen of female origin who births, protects, nourishes, guides, and worries for her young until her death (and probably thereafter).
This is not Webster’s definition of the word, I understand that. But, on this fine and beautiful holiday – a holiday that holds a special place in my heart – this is what a mother is. A protector. A worrier. A leader. A woman deserving of her own day…a warm and fuzzy day called MOTHERS Day. So, let me start out by wishing all the moms I know out there a VERY merry and relaxing, clean and inviting, breakfast-in-bed kind of Mother’s Day. You all know who you are, so do me a favor and pat yourselves on the back and know that I love your children (yes, ALL of them) and think you’re doing a phenomenal job in raising them. Lift a glass full of vino (the real kind – not grape juice, cheaters!) and be proud on this day. You’re surviving. You’re incredible. You’re someone’s superhero.
Speaking of superheroes, I’m going to touch on a subject that I’ve been avoiding in my writing for quite some time because I THINK I may have gotten past it. Maybe. My son is a toddler. He goes through phases. Spurts of likes and dislikes. One day he can’t eat his carrots fast enough and the next he finds more joy sticking them up his nostrils. One minute he is laughing hysterically at my rendition of Itsy Bitsy Spider, and seconds later it’s like a scene from Arachnophobia. I’m not asking you to explain toddlers to me. I know how they operate. That doesn’t make it less frustrating. But, every day Coen has the same superhero – his daddy. Nate is my best friend and as close a replicate of my own father as I could’ve married, so it’s no wonder I love him so much. He is sensitive and charming, funny and intelligent, and really freaking youthful. Which is EXACTLY why Coen is madly, truly, deeply in love with the guy! It makes perfect sense. And I can’t say I blame him.
Where my sadness sets in a bit (and this isn’t meant to be a pity-party…especially on Mother’s Day) is with this “phase” he’s been going through. First of all, phases don’t last 14 months, so I’m thinking people just call it that to make me feel better. Secondly, I am 99.9% sure I’ve never done anything to make him resent or fear me. But, for some reason, he has preferred his daddy for quite some time now. He’s the go-to for bedtime routines, book reading, bath time, and wagon rides. Sure, Nate pops wheelies with the wagon and makes a mean cup of milk, but I use sweet-ass voices when I read and my bath time bubbles totally make better Santa beards. It’s not a competition, this I know. I’m just proving the point that I do things equally as well, and for some reason, the boy prefers the man. And this might be how it’s gonna be. Maybe for a little while. Maybe for a long while.
Every time I convince myself that I’m over it or I don’t care and refuse to let it bother me, it simply eats away at me until I wind up crying in the bathroom because I sat too close to him on the couch and he screams and cowers into his father’s arms like I’m a 900-pound yeti who eats small dimpled children. Yeah, that’ll yank violently on some heartstrings. And of course, since one cannot share said emotions with a two-year-old, your marriage gets tested because you feel like something must not be written fairly in your parenting handbook to make him have such an obvious and dominant preference.
Mostly, the reason I cry is that I want him to WANT me. I want to be the one who kisses his owies and rocks him to sleep. I guess I just want to know that he needs me on some level. Not just to cut his spaghetti and fold his little sweatpants, but to do those things I defined above – protect him and guide him and beat up any poorly-raised punks that cause him harm. It’s obvious his daddy would do all those things too, but we’re a team and we’re both here for him til death do us part. So, I try not to let it get me down, and every once in awhile I have moments – super-amazing Mother’s Day moments – that wash away any festering fears of neglect or favoritism.
Tonight Nate took us out for dinner to Tino’s Italian Cafe. We dined on spaghetti and meatballs and buttered noodles – a fine Mother’s Day feast. Now, I’m not sure what started this, but halfway through dinner Coen reached out and grabbed my shirt and pulled me towards him until I was nearly on top of the poor kid. It’s possible he was intimidated by the large and hairy goodfella behind the counter, or maybe he just needed a cloth napkin in the form of an expensive plaid Gap button-down, but my shirt was now greased up from little paws and I felt so very needed. I would pull away to try and take a few bites of my meal, and he would put his hand on my back and pull me back towards him. There was no way I was getting more than 3 inches away from this kid’s buttery head for the remainder of our dinner. And truth be told, I LOVED every MINUTE. He was slimy and he was mine.
At that moment, he wanted me near him (like, tauntingly-“I’m-not-touching-you,-I’m-not-touching-you” near him, but near him nonetheless). Those moments during that meal erased all recent thoughts I’ve had at bath time, bedtime, story time or wagon time. This kid needs me. He loves me. He does know that I’m here for him. And, no, I couldn’t have taken down the mobster behind the counter should he have gone all “Godfather” on us, but Coen doesn’t know that. In his eyes, his parents are invincible and that is a standard to not be taken lightly. We are his protectors. His leaders. His role models. We are his owie-kissers and his wagon-pullers. We are his parents. And today, on this grand holiday, I was his SUPERMOTHER! I ate it up right along with my spaghetti and will never forget the fun we had.
And in case anyone was wondering, the actual Webster’s definition of the verb “Mothering” is:
Bring up with care and affection; look after kindly and protectively, sometimes excessively so.
Looks like Webster knows what he’s talking about. That guy should write a book.
Happy Mother’s Day, ladies! Live it up and enjoy the ride.
This post is fondly dedicated to MY beautiful mother, Dar Machler. Most kind-hearted soul this world has ever seen. Mom, Mother’s Day was made for saints like you. All my love.