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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Longing of Motherhood


No language can express the power, and beauty, 
and heroism, and majesty of a mother's love.  
It shrinks not where man cowers, and grows stronger where man faints, 
and over wastes of worldly fortunes sends the radiance of its quenchless fidelity like a star. 
 ~Edwin Hubbell Chapin


While I was in Mexico, I asked her to sleep with me her first night home. 

She obliged.

Our conversations had been scares while we were apart thanks to poor internet connections and a few rainy nights that made the journey to the "internet spot" treacherous. So, to say I simply missed her was an understatement.

I longed for her.

The little girl separated from me by 1,096 miles of land and sea. 

I waited and waited for Tuesday to come. 

The day of her homecoming. 

When I pulled into my driveway and saw her sitting there with her dad, the butterflies filled my stomach. I got out of the car and smiled as she flew from her dad's arm into mine. That first moment I held her, I felt my heart breathe a deep sigh of relief. 

I closed my eyes, nuzzled my nose into her hair and breathed her in. 

My baby girl.

 My entire world wrapped up into one tiny, rambunctious, talkative little strawberry-blonde beauty queen. 

And in that very moment, my heart was finally whole. 

******

Motherhood changes you. Not only does it change your body, but it transforms your spirit. The books prepare you for the sleepless nights, the dependency on coffee, the lack of nutrition due to tiny hands and mouths grazing from your plate, and the sudden mind bending ability to locate ANY toy from the shower with shampoo in your hair. The books also try to explain the emotional side of motherhood. The connection you instantly feel with this tiny human being who seems to carry your heart around with her wherever she goes. 

The key word is "try".  They try. 

But they fail miserably. 

To be honest, that connection cannot be described. It just can't. There are no words for how scary, heart-rending, joyous, maddening, and perfect your connection with your child will be. It is truly the most beautiful thing my heart has ever felt, and I have never felt our connection more than when we are apart. 

Vacations are one thing. I can coach myself through them or get my friends to take me on an exotic trip that promises to help me forget. I can mark the days off a calendar, and plan for her homecoming. I can wash her sheets, buy her favorite snacks, and know that someday soon she'll be home. Vacations are the easy part.

But ever since my separation and divorce, I don't just get to miss her on vacations. I miss her a couple of days a week...every. single. week. I try to occupy my time. My homework keeps me busy. I work late. I have dinner dates with friends. I catch up on my New Girl. I write. But as unprepared as I was for the loneliness of divorce, nothing compares to how unprepared I was to go nights without her. 

Sure, we are adjusting. We are finding our way through the jungle of this "new normal". Some days are better than others. But no matter how many days, weeks, or months pass my longing for her never subsides. Ever. 

The description of that longing is no where to be found in any book you will ever read as a new mother. No one writes about it in your baby shower cards. No one pulls you aside to whisper words of encouragement about how to deal with that longing on their first day at the babysitter, their first overnight sleepover at Grandma and Grandpa's, or their first day of kindergarten. No one tells you it will still be there when they learn to ride a bike without training wheels, when they go to their first summer camp, when they join their first after school program in junior high, or when they start driving. Not one person ever tells you these things, because that longing for your child comes with motherhood. It cannot be explained and as far as I can tell, it never goes away.

It's always there. 

It is etched into my soul and tattooed on the palm of my hand. She fills my dreams when she is away. I hear her call out in the night when she is gone, and run to her room to check. My heart feels her from 30 miles away.

 And sometimes even when she's home, I long for her. I long for her from the next room. I lay there until I can no longer stand it and then I go in, scoop her sleeping form out of bed and nestle her next to me. She stirs and moves in closer-her body shaping itself to mine until it rests right next to the sound of the heartbeat she listened to for nine months and one week. 

For me, those moments are the most precious. Because in those moments we are safe-cocooned in my comforter where the world can't get to us. The two of us right where we belong. 

Only then does the longing quiet a little. 

Only then is my heart truly whole. 

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