Ruby made a big stink about sleeping in my bed last night. It’s hard when they both sleep in there because I end up falling off the bed and was desperate for sleep. My eyeballs were burning. But she insisted, and out of impatience and a looming sensation to hit the hay, I barked, “fine fine just please stop and get under the covers.”
It was really dismissive of herand I felt gross. I just wanted to sleep so bad. She continued to cry, Odin plugged between us like the porcelain throne filling with tears. He’s a soft little thing. And sometimes he’s a demon. But he makes up for it when he is soft like this. A sudden urgency to hold space for RJ comes over me. I take a deep breath and on exhale, release the ‘disgruntled adult’ shtick that is absolutely not my story and not what I am about. One shoulder, half an arm and a third of my breast is the home for Odin’s head. Everyone needs a bosom for a pillow, but Ruby is nowhere near my bosom. Her sniffles, snot bubbles and muffled tears escape her mouth like a baby bird begging in the nest. I somehow find the flexibility to extend my other arm over to her. Across two dogs using my tummy and ribs as hot water bags. Across my son, who insists he is not budging to accomodate this affection.
My fingers and half my palm are just long enough to find her, and instinctively, she finds them in the dark, like eyes that can’t see but a soul that knows exactly what it is looking for. Again I breathe. And on exhale, I envision a transference of sunshine that fills every cell of her body. ‘ I can’t believe these little fingers grew inside me.’ I take a moment to simply let her know I am there. I am seeing her. And that being sad is ok. That being sad is not always something you need to be rescued from. I take that time to remember what her little face looked the very first time she left the darkness of my womb to meet the light of my aura. My bedroom could be a womb right now. And here I am laying in bed with two little people who sprung from that very same energy they seek to feel safe and seen.
After a few minutes I gently enquire, ‘Ruby, what is making you feel sad?’ And then just like that, a river of innocence spills from her that feels like hot raging rapids of affection I have been seeking in every relationship I’ve ever had but never found. A sea of snot and welping interrupts the frequency.
‘I’m s-a..a-d, I’m s-a…*gulp*a-d-d. I’m sad because I just want to be close to you and next to you. But I’m at school all day long. And I feel like I never get to see you. This bed is the place I get to cuddle you and I need more snuggles. Mama, I don’t want to spend my whole life at school. I want to be here with you, or working with you, or laughing with you. Learning with you and being with you makes me happy.’
The most independent, fiery, clever child is coming to me in complete vulnerability and I am stumped. Like, a slugger punch that knocks the wind out of me. I almost say, ‘but you have to go to school’ until I catch myself defaulting to ‘conservative adult and the voice of mother in law’. Here we go again. This isn’t my fucking voice. I HATED school, I felt like an alien. I was idolised or bullied, one or the other, until I graduated. I swallow.
I take a deep breathe and on exhale I say,
‘I am hearing you baby girl. I feel really sad that you are at school all the time because spending lots of time with you makes me happy, too. We’ve spoken about figuring out a different way, finding teachers to come here, alternative schools – do you want to talk about that tomorrow?’
Her little fingers tighten around my knuckles.
‘Yes please, mama. Also, can we speak about being somewhere that is warmer. I need more sunshine. The cold makes me sad.’
I pull my hand away and brush the hair from her face to a ‘I love you, mama.’
I press play on the playlist of cicadas and night sounds that lull me to peace. I roll back into position and fall asleep to the rolodex of memories I have as a child, asking my parents to find me a different learning experience, begging them to move away from the cold. The last thought that crosses my mind is that I won’t force my daughter to wait 30 years before she has a relationship with me, or finds freedom and creative expression. I hear you Ruby. I always will.