Yesterday you asked me why your older brother always gets to choose. We were staying in a vacation rental and I’d given him the choice of beds since he’s the tallest and the most likely to be uncomfortable. “He’s always going to be older,” you said, “so he’s always going to choose.” You imitated me in a perfected ‘mom voice’; “‘Malachi gets to choose because he’s ten’; pretty soon it’s going to be, ‘Malachi gets to choose because he’s eleven;'” you laughed and I laughed, but I understood that your question was real and you felt something deeper than you let on.
I also understood that I was guilty as charged.
Sometimes I don’t see that you get lost in the shuffle between oldest and youngest. I miss it, and I’m so sorry.
Sometimes I wake up in the morning and I see that you’ve grown over night. Your face is more defined, your eyes look older. A part of me is excited and in awe; I know you have so much ahead of you. Another part is scared because time is racing and I can’t slow it down. I’m afraid that I haven’t always been awake and noticing, and that somehow I have slept through the magic of your growing. I wonder, have I enjoyed you enough? Have I given you what you needed? Is your heart still whole? Is your spirit unbroken?
I’m not always good at this. I’m not always as good as I want to be at being your mom. I want to be great; and sometimes I am, but sometimes I’m not.
Sometimes I get it, and sometimes I don’t.
Sometimes I do it right, and sometimes I completely miss it.
Everyday I make mistakes.
Recently I went to a sports bar/pizza place for a friend’s birthday. There was sawdust on the floor, peanuts, and initials carved into the table. I thought, you know who belongs here?
I was right. A week later we brought them. We got a paper tray full of peanuts and my husband instructed everyone that their shells were to be thrown on the floor. I guard the carpet under our kitchen table like a prison warden, so my seven-year-old’s eyes lit up like it was Christmas. His shrill, villainous, laughter could be heard across the bar as he plowed through peanuts just so he could throw the shells to the ground. Graham busted out his pocket knife and my nine-year-old set to work on the table with the prowess of a young Michelangelo.
We are such good parents.