What do you think when you look at me? Now that you’re older, I think about these things. I am no longer just a warm body, a boo-boo kisser, a food provider. Do you see me more as a person? And what kind of person am I to you?
You probably don’t look at me very carefully. You just take me in without thinking. I wash over you. I race past you. Me in my pink sweatshirt, my hair in a messy ponytail, my sleep-wrecked eyes. Will you remember me this way, the way I see myself?
Or will you see me completely differently?
What did you think of me this morning? When I couldn’t back the car out because of the frozen pile of snow in the way? When you shouted that we were going to be late? That you were sure you knew how to maneuver the car just the right way? When I had to rush back into the house to get your brother’s warmer jacket? When you sat in the freezing car waiting for me? When we walked to school, your brother crying about the cold, and you crying about your lateness?
What did you think when I came out of the house, holding his coat, crying? I said, “I’m crying,” and you said nothing. Where do you put your feelings about these things?
I know you take things in. At night, when we turn out the lights, we talk. There are feelings right there, in your throat. Sometimes the light goes out and you cry. There are feelings in your hand clutching my hand as you fall asleep. There are needs. Wishes. Fears.
I want to know what you know. The mystery of you. As the years go by, I feel like I know less of you, and more of you at the same time.
I can see the lines where you’ll become a man, like a shadow hovering above your body. You are bold and complicated and sweet and angry and passionate and kind.
Someday you will write about me. Or tell someone my secrets. Or just see me, as you’re falling asleep, or waiting in line at the grocery store. Your vision of me, the way I really was, as your mother.
You will remember how you trusted me. You will remember how I failed you. You will know how I struggled, what I longed for.
Your story of me, through your eyes. It will be a good one. Authentic. Visceral. I will be beautiful, in all my complexities, contradictions, all-consuming love. I will be tired. I will have tried. I will be utterly myself. Your mother.