I had a pretty good day yesterday; not because anything out of the ordinary happened, but more because I hover and protect normal, good days as if it is a third child. When my days are simple and consumed with the natural worries and fears of everyday life, I hold on tight. I need to everyday in ways that I am not sure others appreciate. The every days mean that I am sane today, that I am something one can like. Yesterday, I was sane.
My husband and I took my children to a new McDonald’s in town. I have never craved nor needed a McDonald’s, but the marketing is such that every child whether they like the food or not, loves to go there. It is not an everyday treat in my children’s lives, but I don’t mind celebrating the genius of McDonald’s marketing department by eating there. It certainly doesn’t seem to be anything to them or about them, and every other person on the planet likes the food.
So there we were sitting in the new playground area. I can’t tell you much about the new area, it seemed like an overstuffed jungle gym in a really tight place. But my children love anything new, much like other children and after lunch we gave them leave to play. There were twenty other children, laughing and yelling right along with my children, and ten other parents talking on cell phones, texting something to someone; all very normal and I am sure most people can imagine the scene very easily.
I personally was looking the schedule for our local baseball team. One, I don’t text so it was the only thing left to me; and two, my son is begging to go again. I was sharing what I thought was a good family plan with my husband, looking at the sheet and letting the sounds of the children’s screams, the cars blaring music, and the general den of sound wash over me. It was normal.
I wasn’t paying attention when my child softly called my name. I didn’t know where he was standing on the jungle gym, and I didn’t know visually anything about him. But through all the noise, I heard him. Despite the fact I hadn’t checked on him, I knew exactly where he was standing. And I knew that he wasn’t hurt. Despite the fact that I was completely wrapped into my own world, I knew my son’s voice and I turned immediately to him. I did it without thinking, without hope, without any bit of fear. I heard his call deep in my heart, and I knew.
There has always been talk about a mother’s intuition. A mother’s extraordinary ability to react in unexpected ways; the mother lifting a car to save her child, the mother who knew her child was choking without a word. We hear the stories, we know the stories, and if you are anything like me you say something cute and move on without thinking much about it. It is so prevalent in our society that we don’t consider it to be strange. It is such a natural part of many mothers that no one questions that link, that bond, that system of wires that makes it all possible.
Sitting next to me at the McDonald’s was a very attractive woman. Her hair was combed and done nicely, her nails were perfect, her clothes were perfect. She sat there from the moment I step in the place to well after I left talking on the phone. The two children who were with her almost seemed resigned that their mom wasn’t going to talk to them, almost as if it was the norm. The mother certainly wasn’t being silent, so I could hear the majority of the conversation; a typical conversation between what I assume was two women comparing notes. There was nothing harsh, rude, or even cute in that conversation. It seemed more two women who were bored in life and looking for something to do.
I don’t know if that woman was always like that. I don’t know if her parenting style is to dump food in front of her kids, and get them away from her as fast as she could. I don’t know if she regretted having children and losing her figure, or losing her time. I don’t know and I will never know.
Most mothers, at one time or another, need a break. We need to find quiet in the insanity of children. We need to punch a pillow rather than our children, and we need to talk a walk to get away from the very really need to run away. Often I need little pockets of space, and just one moment of no questions. I have been known to stick my children in front of the television with a “forbidden” show just for a moment’s peace. I have been known to pick up fast food because I truly don’t want to deal with anything else; and I have been known to go to a local McDonald’s just to relax in the chaos.
I am the first person to admit that life is not easy. And motherhood is probably the hardest of all. We are, of course, compensated with smiles and giggles, belly laughter, and the look of excitement. We are given moments of pure perfection to compensate for the thousands of other moments of pure fear, frustration and anger. Most moms take the good with the bad, and don’t worry too much about the details. We are human, and we react and are human in every way.
But how in our lives can we explain that magic bond between a child and their mother? Is it something that can only be felt when you are a good, kind and loving mother? Is it something that is only gifted to those that truly love their child? Do we get a choice if we can hear our child in the middle of the night? Do we get a choice to find the strength to save our child?
There are good mothers, bad mothers, and indifferent mothers. Did the woman sitting in McDonald’s talking on her phone capable of hearing her child? Could she only hear her child when the kid was in trouble? Why is it though all those voices I was open to hearing my child simply call my name? Was there something special about me, about my child that allowed me to in that moment feel him in a sea of noise and people? And will it always be like that? Will I always be able to recognize my child in a room of others? Will I always been able to hear that voice in the midst of insanity?
I pray so. I pray that my children will always be able to find me in the darkness as easily as he can find me in the light. And when the time has come I hope that his voice will follow me into heaven, guiding my heart to where it is meant to be.