This post was inspired by the gripping and lovely suspense thriller Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton. After witnessing her children’s school set ablaze, Grace attempts to find the arsonist as her teenage daughter lies in a coma. Join From Left to Write on April 11th as we discuss Afterwards. As a member, I received a copy of the book for the purposes of this post.
Right now I’m thousands of feet above ground, having kissed my kids goodbye for a few days. While I head to British Columbia to visit Club Penguin headquarters for a press event, they’re staying behind, continuing their normal routine. Only without me.
But it’s ok — I know they’re in good hands. And I know that even if they miss brushing their teeth one night, or forget to take Friday sharing to school, that they’ll be just fine. Plus, the five pages of notes I left as my insurance policy should help ensure things run smoothly.
But what if I hadn’t been able to plan. Or to come home in a few days? What if some tragedy kept me from them?
Beyond knowing that Big won’t drink milk from a cardboard container (or the kind that has a “%” in the name), that Little does like the crust on his sandwich this week, and that Pink just mastered taking off her own diaper, there’s stuff that only I know.
Could anyone else delicately unravel the knots that Big spins in his chest all day at school? Could they read the situation to know what it was going to take to soothe him — or would they unintentionally pull the strings tighter and make him snap?
Could anyone else know that bedtime stories aren’t at all about the books for Little? That my tactile boy needs that time to have his back, arms, and head scratched — to have a warm, human connection?
Could anyone else know that Pink just needs a simple reminder that she’s a “happy girl” to turn her frustration into giggles? And that she likes you to move her feet a certain way when you sing If You’re Happy and You Know It at bedtime? But that her real favorite lullaby is a song I learned in Catholic youth group — and she knows all the words (words like adoration and devotion) as best a soon-to-be-two-year old can?
There are things a mom just knows. Things that can’t be written on a to-do list. Things that shape a child’s moment, day, heart. Those are the things that would be truly missed if I weren’t there each day.
It’s funny, there are days that responsibility can feel overwhelming, even like a burden. But today, I’m remembering that being my kids’ mom — the only one who can do things exactly like I do them — that’s a real privilege.