21 Jun The sorest spot
Tonight, rocking Henry after he had fallen asleep, the vague realization of the smell of Henry’s sunblock sent me reeling. Before I knew it I was crying and holding him so tight.
Today was a typical Very Busy Day in that there were a lot of scheduling tricks that had to go off. Cory got home at 7 a.m. and had to go in to work at 7 p.m. and sleep in the middle. I had to work at the Shirt Factory from 9:30 a.m. until I left to drive straight downtown to perform with the Skirts for Third Thursday, and my grandparents came to see me sing. My mom spent the night but had to leave mid-day. The Avon grandparents picked up the Henrycare gaps. I asked folks to bring Henry to see me at the Gallery so that I could nurse Henry a couple of times during my shift so I wouldn’t have to pump (he doesn’t like bottles any more).
My mom brought him by in the early afternoon, and Cory brought him by later. I was able to get away to spend a few minutes with him the first time under the guise of a lunch break, but when Cory came I was in a meeting and while I tried to get a second to just hold him at least, I wasn’t able to work and be mom at the same time.
When I passed him back to Cory (he couldn’t hang around; he had to leave to get to work on time), Henry grabbed at me and cried as they left together. It was hard to choke back the emotion and carry on with the meeting. It ripped my heart right out. Right out. And my heart went home with Henry and didn’t come back into my chest until 8:30 or so tonight. My Mimi said, when she saw the quick cuddle I got in with Henry before our Skirts performance, nabbing him out of the stroller his grandparents brought him in, that “It must be so hard to just have that minute with him.” So very true.
When Henry and I had a moment to ourselves at the end of the day, sitting on my bedroom floor after changing into our jammies, the hugs he gave me felt like water on a fire. Soothing. Calming. Like when you stop pressing on a sore finger or a bruise. I didn’t know I was hurting until I felt relief from it.
I said to him that this is our time, now. No distractions. I asked if he wanted to play, if he wanted to walk, if he wanted to cuddle, if he wanted milk. He perked up and looked right in my eyes at the last one, so that’s what we did. I let him pick out a book to read. He chose Amelia Bedelia’s Surprise Shower. And he slowly fell asleep as I read it and he nursed.
That’s when I smelled the sunblock. And the thought hit me that Henry had been around all day; it was me who had been away. And somebody who loved him put sunblock on him. And the somebody wasn’t me because I was at work. And while I’m sure it was one of the grandparents so it’s not some big weird mystery, the thought hit me that I didn’t even know who it was that had applied it or at what time or where he went that was sunny.
I felt so out of touch; like my life is going on without me. My life is Henry. It’s my job to be his mom. There was a time, not so long ago, when I was the only one who knew what he was doing all day, because he was inside me and knowing him was an experience just ours. That has faded away little by little each day as he gets older. While I was at work, Henry was being cared for and it wasn’t by me; and his day wasn’t even anything I knew about at all. There hadn’t been time to get an update on how it went.
Cue the waterworks. I search my calendar mentally for something I could have cut out of today and still gotten the paycheck to put toward the things we have; mortgage, student loan, taxes.
I didn’t waste time today. I didn’t do things that could have waited.
The fact of the matter is that I’m going to miss Henry’s babyhood because I’m working, but I have to work unless I want to lose the life we have. Which makes me question it all. I want to have a nice house and yard for Henry. I want to set a little something aside for him. I want to save for retirement so I don’t end up homeless when I’m old. It’s not that we live a luxurious or remarkable life that makes my plight different than any other working mom. I just feel stuck.
He was so happy during the two-day vacation we just took. Because we were both focused on him and each other; not doing the dishes or going to work or getting the laundry done or dinner made. We just were, and we had a whole couple of days where it was just us and nothing special to do. He smiled so much. He was in such a good mood. And it occurs to me, that this, spending time with him, is what I made him for. It’s my duty as an animal to mother him. And I leave him places so I can work. It’s modern of me, but it’s not our animal nature. Not mine, anyway. I miss him in a really deep way.
And my mind wanders as I’m rocking him, and I realize that is part of the problem. It’s hard to be present when there’s so much on your mind. Even when you’re being sad about having enough time, you aren’t being present. What of that precious little time spent with him is really in the moment, registered as a memory for ever and ever?
I rocked him and rocked him and rocked him tonight. And when I finally put him to bed, I whispered in his ear iloveyouiloveyouiloveyouiloveyouiloveyouiloveyouiloveyouiloveyouiloveyouiloveyou just like we said to Papa John in his dying moment, and just like my dad said to me when I was trying to die.
These moments are important.
The moments that are just for us, no distractions.