Ben is asking me to hold an orange while he twirls in circles in the kitchen. Kasey Musgraves is playing softly on our Alexa – a beautiful, melancholy song. I take leftovers out of the fridge: a square of meatloaf, brown rice and a salad from last night. The frozen, gluten free pizza I bought today from the store is browning in the oven and Joe will be home in 15 minutes. I don’t believe I’ve had a finer moment this year. My purpose is like solid marble – thick, beautiful, timeless. This is right where I’m supposed to be.
Our son has just entered the really affectionate stage and it’s everything you hope for as a mother. I turn around into hugs, I wake up to I love you’s, I tuck Ben in with wet, open-mouthed cheek kisses because he doesn’t quite grasp the “mm-wha” part yet. I will take every single one; I don’t care if my face is drenched.
My mom told me earlier today that to help keep her in place in the moment, she’d think of me as an adult; a fully functioning older woman, making my own decisions, driving my own car, having my own job and own kids and not needing her for everything. She said it made her remember what a beautiful job this is, as mothers. We get be someone’s entire world just for a moment.
I feel motherhood just started getting really good. I liked the baby stuff, I did. It was a special, speedy slowness, a sleep deprived, hormonal, fully immersive time. There was nothing else.
Now, I get to have fun with this kid. He thinks Mama and Dada are funny. He makes silly noises when he plays. He thinks bananas are the best. He is in constant need of Dora the Explorer. There are things he couldn’t do last week that he breezes through now like using an adult spoon, handing me objects I ask for, walking his snack plate to the coffee table from the kitchen. Soon he won’t even be in diapers, which I will miss and not miss. He needs me a little less and he brings out the present in me. He is the most spectacular person and I know all mothers say that; but that’s precisely what all of them should be saying.
When the pizza is done, I place it on the stove top and wait for it to cool. I see Joe just pulled into the driveway. Ben has run off to his room to make his stuffed animals fall off of the new package of diapers I just bought. I can hear him squealing “Weeeee” and “Penguin goes down the slide” from where I’m standing. I don’t know what 6:30 at night will look like in our future. Ben might have a football practice or Joe might have a client past 7:00. I might be ordering take out because Chinese food is the king of all unanswered food queries. There’s no way to know if we’ll live in the same house in the same town with the same dining room table from the antique shop down the street. All we know is it’s dinner time now.