My three boys gave me some terrific gifts today for Mothers' Day. The first, and probably most dear to me, was that David took the boys downstairs at 6:30 a.m. when they woke up and let me sleep all alone in the bed (pure bliss) until almost 9:00! This was after a long night of Monkey nursing at least once every twenty minutes, so it was definitely appreciated.
Then, I had the luxury of a bath, a wonderful French toast breakfast, and a parade of beautiful gifts, including a stained glass rain gauge for the backyard, flower seeds in case I manage to plant something this summer (would be a first), candy, and an interesting clay sculpture that The Jabberwock made at daycare, which he explained, "is like a clip for you hair, except it isn't."
As if all that weren't more than a mother could dream of, I also had the pleasure of being read to by The Jabberwock. The book was a little hard-cover novelty book for teachers, full of cute sayings or stories about being a teacher, probably a gift somewhere along the line from a student or parent.
That, however, didn't limit my little imagination man from telling me the story his way:
J: Once upon a time there were two green frogs, and they both wanted to go to the stream. And do you want to know what happens next, mom?
Me: Did they get to the stream?
J: Yeah. They got to the stream, and there was a Wake Woam!
Me: What’s a wakewoam?
J: A LAKE WORM, it’s a worm that lives in lakes and streams. And that's the end, 'cause it's a happy story. Isn't it a happy story, Mom? Would you like to hear another story, Mom? This one is about two frogs that lived 98 years from now. Wow, Mom! That’s when dinosaurs lived. Isn't that amazing? Imagine! 98 years from now there were dinosaurs and frogs! Want to hear another story? There’s a lot of stories in here.
Me: Yes, yes, read me another one.
J: (Reads some nonsense in a rhythm.)
Me: Sounds like poetry to me.
J: It is, and it’s GOOD poetry. (reads more nonsense poetry)
Me: Is there more to the story about the two green frogs?
J: The lake worm squirmed up close, and the two frogs died.
Me: I thought that was a happy story.
J: There isn’t any happy stories. They’re all for big kids. They’re for four year olds. Well, this area of the book, right here, these are nice stories. The two frogs, guess what they did?
J: A king came, and gave the two frogs some medicine. Then, the two frogs carefully awoken. Then the two frogs went to the river pond every single day. And they never saw any more Lake Worms. The end.
He told me a few more stories, and I began to work on correcting poetry my students had written. Later, he came over to read me a few more stories. This is what he said as he was rummaging through his book:
J: No, no, no, you don’t want one of the bad stories. Oh, OK, here we go...Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess. But she was mean. What??? You don’t want to read that one! That’s a bad story, too! What is going on here? (mutters) The wonderful prince...came, and...Oh, no! I’m not reading THAT! I give up, these are all bad stories!
These amazing kids--they bring me daily to a state of wonder with their antics. They truly are the best gifts of all. This whole day is a gift to me, a reminder of the role I have earned in this life. Sometimes I get to feeling trapped by this role, wondering if I'll ever be able to be anything but a mother, if I'll ever have a moment to write, if I'll ever again sleep through the night, if I'll ever have time to fix my hair and buy cute clothes, if I'll ever have the freedom I used to have. I wonder if I'll ever be able to wrap my brain around complex issues again without feeling it split into pieces, some of which are making grocery lists and some of which are just now noticing that I'm in public with baby snot on the leg of my pants.
This role, motherhood, is not an easy badge to wear. It's heavy and heartbreaking.
But the joy it brings, the wonder and the laughter and the happy chaos--makes it the best role of all.
Happy Mothers' Day!