This year's Mother's Day search took me back to a post from three years ago, written about an experience I had three years before that. It caught my off guard in the best way, and I decided that rather than write something completely new, I wanted to share a slightly edited version of that post this Mother's Day.
I don't usually tell Tom, Will, or Hallie when I make plans to dramatically change my hair. I send everyone out the door in the morning, head to the salon, and then look forward to surprising them when we reconnect after school and work. It's fun to catch my crew off guard and witness how they really feel about my new color and/or cut.
A few years ago I dyed my blond hair dark brown while three-year-old Hallie spent the morning at preschool. When I arrived to pick her up, she saw my face from across the room, smiled, and yelled, "my mama's here!" But then her eyes drifted beyond my face…and her smile quickly faded.
As Hallie made her way, slowly and timidly, across the classroom to where I stood in the doorway, I knelt down so that when she finally reached me we were face-to-face. She cautiously ran her hands through my hair and then gently rested them on my cheeks, where they remained as she looked deep into my eyes and her brain processed the confusing mash-up of a woman in front of her. After what felt like an eternity, Hallie's smile returned. She breathed an audible sigh of relief and exclaimed, "It IS my mommy! She just has different hair!"
When I saw this video I flashed back to that memorable day when, at first glance, my sweet girl couldn't find her mama with just her eyes. She had to look deeper, using both her hands and her heart, to know with certainty and I - and that the connection we share - was still there.
Many years have passed since I held my mother's face between my hands, which makes me wonder if I could identify her in the same manner these children identified their mothers. I do, however, know that I could identify my mother by the way her upper arm feels against my upper arm. It sounds odd, I know. But picture us sitting together, side-by-side on the couch, as I talk and she listens or she talks and I listen. We occasionally shift positions, crossing and uncrossing our legs and resting our heads on each others' shoulders, but our upper arms never separate. I know what it feels like to have someone right by my side, always. Lucky me.
Happy Mother's Day to all those celebrating (and hugs to those for whom today hurts), especially my mom, grandma, mother-in-law, sister Sara, and sis-in-law Chandi. I love you all, and cherish our unique and special connections.
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