I counted. Our house has eight decent-sized rooms for comfortable living and sleeping. A cushy couch room opens to the eat-all-the-things room. There is even a room with piles of toys like an un-guarded dragon lair—puzzle pieces and doll clothes sliding down the detritus amid old Pop-Tarts wrappers and floppy, day-old carrot sticks.
Our abundance is overwhelming. Eight rooms, five people.
The math shouldn’t be hard. And yet, we aren’t being efficient with our space. Like Naomi before me, I have three little Ruths following me from room to room.
“Wherever you go, Mommy, I’m coming too. Your cozy spot on the couch shall be my cozy spot; your apple slices shall be my apple slices.”
I love them. But I wonder, did Naomi ever want her space, too?
I decided to repaint my nails this morning, so I sat on the bedroom floor with Pandora crooning on my phone. Were I to hang out a banner and hire a band, I couldn’t have broadcasted my position more clearly.
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In five minutes, my daughter was hip-to-hip with me, painting her nails too. And here came the boys. One to read belly-down on the carpet, the other carrying LEGOs to build in my company. Even the cat slinked in, claiming a chair with a tail-flick.
At that moment, I realized: I was Velcro Mommy. I should have enjoyed the presence of their tiny bodies, their happy words, and their little stories.
But I wanted to be alone.
As an introvert, this time of constant together has been hard. I rejoice when I need to take out the trash or put a letter in the mailbox. A few stolen seconds with the stars. Peace.
Scary things are happening. We made the decision as parents to keep the news off. My children know about the state of things, but they don’t have the full scope, and I’m fine with that.
But I think some of the world’s anxiety has seeped under their skin. A cloud of unknowing sits heavy on us, and I think it has sprinkled a few of its ill-fated drops onto their heads.
They want to be close. Always.
And yes, Daddy is there in full force, dishing up fried eggs, leading LEGO building, and loving on them relentlessly.
But when they get hurt, where do they run?
There is a hurt they don’t even know they have. They feel the sting of it, but not the source.
Life has altered, crashed to a halt. But the halt comes bearing more stress and harder work than before. It’s confusing to me, why would I assume it wasn’t confusing to them?
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My daughter flops on the couch next to me while I read, toting a well-worn Big Nate under her arm.
She says, “I’m going to read here. The light is better.”
But I know she is saying, “I need to be close. I’m feeling things bigger than I understand.”
My son’s feet pad into my room as I make the bed and I hear, “Mommy, what are you doing?”
But I speak Velcro now. He’s actually saying, “Things are scary, Mommy, but you’re making your bed like its another normal day. Things will be OK today, right?”
My other son finds me eating a late lunch and scoots his chair next to mine and says, “I’m still a little hungry, can I have a bite of that?”
I know that translates to, “I may be big enough to make my own lunch, but I’m not big enough, yet, to be all on my own. You’re still here to help me, even though things are different, right?”
I’d like to say that understanding the why makes me better. But I struggle with it.
Those sweaty limbs, sticky from playing outside come and adhere to me. I hear the snatch of Velcro binding them to me.
“Wherever you go, Mommy, I’ll be there too.” And I let them because it’s scary.
But taking out the trash and mailing letters are still my favorite parts of the day. Under starry skies and the rustle of the trees in the darkening skies, I feel my Velcro burden un-clasping.
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In the stillness, I hear another attachment, so quiet it’s more like a loosening than a binding–I peel off the Velcro of mom-ness and tether myself to the binder of the universe.
“I’m tired of mom-ing, always being a helper. Is it going to get any easier?” I ask.
But, my God is good at speaking Velcro, too. He knows what I’m really asking, and He answers.
“Yes, things are going to be OK. I’m going to help. I’m still here, too.”
The words float in a breeze that lifts a strand of my hair in the moon’s light, solemn with joy.