I’m sitting by the window on a rainy day cuddling my baby daughter, this little snippet of flesh and bone that somehow grew within me, separated from me, and pushed her way into the world as a person all her own.I’ve already considered the laundry and vacuuming I should be doing, and put it aside. This is more important.
I have to make a conscious effort not to feel guilty about the chores I’m putting off to spend this little time with Meara. Somehow, I so often forget that I’m not just the maid/nanny whose only job is to do the housework and make sure the kids make it through the day without choking or falling down the stairs. I’m here to mother them. To play, teach, love and guide them. To fingerpaint and learn the alphabet. To exhibit kindness and forgiveness, and to correct its opposite. To bake cookies, tell stories, wipe noses, and kiss bumps and scrapes. To answer questions and dispel fears.
To sit on a couch and kiss chubby elbows, knees, toes, and cheeks in the brief moment when that is still possible, when my baby is still a baby.
This is what those grandmothers, uncles, aunts, and older friends meant when they said to enjoy them while they’re young because they grow up so fast. My son, at three, is already to old to let me hold him in this way. Soon my daughter – my serious, grave little daughter with the furrowed brow and dark eyes who I suspect may require more cuddling than my independent, carefree son – will be too old for this too.
Let me ground my children in love first. Let them feel arms around them as often as – no, more than – they are told to pick up their toys and be nice to their siblings. Let me always remember that the primary task of motherhood is mothering.