Common Ground.

I couldn’t have been more than seven or eight years old.  Every Tuesday night my mother worked at the local library.  My brother and I spent the evening eating Jiffy Pop and watching The A-Team with our father.  Once Dad and Jim were asleep, and I was supposed to be, I’d sneak into my mother’s bed to wait for her to get home.
She always seemed annoyed to find me there.  I pretended to be asleep so she would pick me up and carry me to my own bed.  She always knew I was awake and would tell me that the following week I was to sleep in my own bed. But I needed to know she was home, and I worried I wouldn’t get to see her if I wasn’t in her room.  So every week this ritual continued. 
For the past few weeks, my shoulders have been in considerable pain. My son is now forty-five pounds and at least as many inches.  He looks like he grows daily, all gangly arms and legs.  I suspect my shoulder pain is the direct result of trying to carry this monstrosity that my child has become.  
I fell asleep on the couch last night.  I was woken up by an urgent, frightened voice at the top of the stairs calling out, “Mommy? Mommy?” Startled and concerned, I sprinted to the second floor, taking the stairs by twos.
“I was calling you and you didn’t answer,” his voice cracked with sadness.
“I’m sorry, Baby.  I was asleep. I’m here now, it’s OK.” I hugged his shaking body.
“I was scared,” he cried.
“It’s OK,” I whispered as I scooped him up.  He wrapped his legs around my waist and his arms around my neck, resting his head on my shoulder.  Closer to seven years old than to six, his torso is too long to fit this way.  I craned my neck to accommodate his need for comfort, pain surging through my shoulders.  As I lifted him onto his loft bed, wincing while I raised his body, he loosened his grip and eased into his pillow.
Now that he knew I was there, he could get back to sleep.
I kissed Nathan’s face as he drifted off.  I retreated to my room.  Once in my own bed, my shoulders began to relax, the pain subsiding just a bit.

My mother probably wasn’t really annoyed at me.  She was tired and I was heavy.  Her shoulders probably hurt from my weight and that of the world.  But she carried me as long as she could so I’d know I was safe, because that’s what moms do.

We don’t seem to have many parallels in our parenting, my mother and I, but I suppose there may be more common ground than I once thought.

I have been terrible about keeping up with 31dbbb, but I had this story brewing for the challenge grid, so here I am.

49 Responses to “Common Ground.”

  1. PAMO says:

    What a great memory of your mother and of you being a mom.
    Nathan is very lucky to have you!

  2. Stacie says:

    This is very sweet! Enjoy every moment b/c it goes so fast! Shane is still cuddly, at 9, but he’s too heavy to pick up. The sad day will be when he no longer tries to come into our bed!

  3. This is very sweet. I like how you found some common ground. That helps a little, right? And I love the images of you being carried, and you carrying your son. Beautiful.

  4. as we get older we see some of our memories in different perspective. i’m with stacie. enjoy every day you have to pick that gangly boy up, and maybe smile so he doesn’t think you’re annoyed and remember it that way. 😉

    • It struck me how I don’t know how to be a mom to a kid I can’t pick up. I’ve always held him, or he sits on my lap or something. Someday he’s not even going to want to be in the same room with me. That is going to be so sad.

  5. There is something different in your tone here. I can’t put my finger on it but I really like it. It’s like a more gentle, subtle, mature voice. I like them all, but this one has a gorgeous melancholy.

  6. oh Michelle. I love this here post of yours. having a similar relationship with my mom as you did with yours, this piece is like a breath of fresh air. just lovely.

  7. So lovely. I try to find common ground between myself and my mother. It’s so hard. I’m glad you found something small to hold onto.

  8. I agree with Christie. There is something a little different coming through your words here that is really lovely.

  9. mistyslaws says:

    My son is 8 and now 48 pounds. He woke me the other night because he had an earache, but there was no way I could lift him or carry him to his room. He had to walk. I miss the days when he fit in one arm. Even if it hurts your neck, enjoy it while it lasts. While you can still hold him to you.

    Great post!

  10. I love this. I essentially lost my mom at 11 years old. My father won custody and moved us across the province. But I too have moments where I realize I haven’t forgotten it all. I call my daughter “baby girl” (what my own mother called me) despite how much I hated her doing it to me.

    Anyway my mother and I are pretty different in parenting too. So maybe I got a little choked up with this post.

  11. Kat Biggie says:

    I can completely relate to this story. I am learning a lot more about why my mom did or didn’t do certain things now that I have children.

  12. Beautiful story, Michelle. I also love the tone and the gentleness of this memory. I still have a longing for the safety of a mother’s arms. Not necessarily my mom’s, but some loving, motherly presence. Hugs to you and your son.

    • I don’t think we outgrow that need to be held or for a motherly presence. I hope that I can be there for my son as long as he still wants a hug, and long after he doesn’t. I hope I can just wait around with my arms open in case he decides he needs one.

  13. Zoe Byrd says:

    Im glad you discovered this…Its a lovely memory.

  14. Larks says:

    Awwww… Lovely post, lovely thought on common ground, and lovely writing.

  15. Marcy says:

    I loved how you started with your own childhood before making the connection with your son.

  16. Kim S. says:

    Putting your child to bed has such poignancy and I love how you wove your past and your present together here.

  17. I love how you relate your own pains and struggle with those of your mother, yet with gentleness that belies the tiredness. What a lovely parallel you discovered.

  18. cynk says:

    If you are going to have parallels with your mom, this one is definitely worth remembering and cherishing.

  19. Cheryl Talma says:

    I love this post! Your son is very lucky to have a Mom like you :)

  20. Cindy Reed says:

    Tears here. My 45 pound almost 6 year old sometimes peeks in at night just to verify my presence.

  21. Linda Roy says:

    Michelle, this is just beautiful. I relate to the mother/daughter relationship as well as the mother/son one. My younger son is 7 and falls asleep every night in bed next to me while I type and watch tv and then my husband usually carries him to his loft bed. The other night though, both my boys fell asleep on our bed and my exhausted 13 yo asked me to carry him, I think, on a dare, thinking I couldn’t do it, but I did. He seemed to be comforted by it and I liked the fact that I had another chance to carry this boy who is too old to have his mother carry him. It’s good when they reach out for our comfort.

    • Every night Nathan wants me to carry him up to bed because he’s too tired. I give him a piggy back (that doesn’t hurt and is much easier!). I’m going to miss when I can’t do that either. Thank you for sharing your story too. Boys are sweethearts when it comes to their moms I think.

  22. lovely…I love the connection you made to your mother. There is nothing like that solid weight of a child to make you feel both your mortality and your immortality–they’re so alive and at the same time, inevitably, they’re growing away.

  23. 50Peach says:

    Such a lovely post, Michelle. Perhaps drawing these parallels now as a mom will help heal some old wounds about yours. Sending love. xox

  24. Jack says:

    That is very sweet. My oldest is going to be 13 in December. Every now and then he’ll pretend to be asleep on the couch so that I will carry him.

    It used to happen more frequently, but he has discovered that now that he weighs around 80 pounds or that Dad is the only one who will do it.

    I don’t always do it, but I haven’t missed the last few opportunities because I feel time ticking away.

    Your post has me trying to think of parallels now between my time as a kid and as a father.

    • It kind of makes you wonder, doesn’t it, why don’t kids just ask for the snuggling they clearly want. Or come get hugs. I don’t know why I didn’t. I wonder if my son will. I find I’m able to draw more parallels to my mother now, but I assume that’s because now that my son is 6, I am better able to remember when I was that age, as opposed to, say, 3.

      Glad it made you think!

  25. I understand completely. My 9 yo is about 53 pounds, and I am in no shape to carry his 53-inch frame. (Hey, look at that. His height and weight at the same right now.)

    And I haven’t been for a while. Thankfully, he does not WANT a loft bed, and I can get him to sleepwalk to bed if he falls asleep on the couch.

    But yeah.

leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: