Mother's Day. It's a strange feeling this year, one that makes it feel as if I am coexisting in two different worlds at the same time. My days are spent with Ethan and, because of it, I am frantic and chaotic and messy. I wear yoga pants and t-shirts -- the latter of which I usually grab from my husband's side of the closet just because baggier works better these days. Sometimes I throw my hair up in a messy bun but, most times, it's already there and has been for the past week because washing my hair is one of those little luxuries that I don't have time for. I homeschool and I chug some coffee and I run my kid around the tri-county area trying to fill his days with magical, incredible experiences -- museums, parks, the zoo. Wherever his heart desires, really. I stress over dinner and remember at four o'clock that I didn't thaw the chicken breasts and clean up urine that isn't my own and realize, when I'm too tired to get out of bed and remedy it, that my shirt is covered in toddler snot. It is this version of me that is often welcomed and encouraged to join into the motherhood jokes. The ones that take self-deprecation to a whole new level. The ones that share memes about solely wanting alone time on Mother's Day. "I want to pretend I'm not a mother," joked one friend on Facebook. "NO KIDS," pleaded another. I've read other lists so callous, cruel and disturbing that I feel my throat close up and my eyes begin to well with tears. The other part of me, the one that co-exists in an entirely different world altogether, comes out at this time.
My second child is sitting in a silver urn adorned with blue teddy bears. There is a framed photograph of her that so much resembles her father it's insane to see. Her eyes are closed and her lips are dark and she is dead. On Mother's Day, all I want is to be covered in her bodily fluids or listening to her laugh or learn to crawl or breathe in the air or do all of the things that her heart condition never let her do. My greatest gift would be a sleepless night, frantically torn between my two children's rooms, soothing nightmares or making bottles or rubbing backs or singing lullabies at three in the morning despite not having been to sleep yet. My greatest gift would be being able to feel her heartbeat -- a healthy, strong heartbeat -- as she slept, instead of squeezing the trunk of a stuffed elephant that plays back fifteen seconds of thump, thumping from the broken heartbeat I so love. This is the world where my head floats up into on most days, a world of perspective shifts and sympathetic smiles.
Mother's Day. I am so grateful to be a mother to my two beautiful kids with their round eyes and '90's cult film namesakes. I am so grateful to have carried Wylie in my belly for those 30 weeks, to have felt her leave my body, to have held her in my arms for the short time I was able to. And I am so grateful for my Ethan, for my yellow bird, for the countless times he has saved my life with his smile. There is no honor greater than hearing him call my name, even at four in the morning when he's decided he's up for the day. The greatest Mother's Day gift of all is the privilege of holding him while he cries. It's the feel of his chest rising and falling when I check on him for the umpteenth time in the middle of the night. It's the sound of his laughter and the way he gets a dimple in his chin when he laughs. The greatest gift of all is cleaning up his messes or rationalizing with his mid-Target tantrums or answering "but why?" for the fortieth time in twenty minutes.
All I want for Mother's Day is to celebrate my babies. Both of them. All I want is to hold my beautiful son in my arms and carry him -- all 50 pounds of him -- down the driveway when he's too tired or grumpy to walk. All I want is to feel him sigh an "I love you" into my clavicle as he does when he's feeling sleepy. That is the greatest gift. It's all I want.
And, you know, maybe a new pair of yoga pants, too.