There are days, quite a lot of them actually, when I don’t feel like the adult in this Momma Bear / Baby Bear scenario. Little Miss sidled up to me one afternoon this week and wrapped her dainty arms around my legs and hugged me hard. The little mite, in her four tiny years and few short feet, has grown up so much in the past year but so desperately needs her Momma’s hugs. And I hope she always will. In that instant, as her arms squeezed me tight, I thought, dammit I needed that. I needed that hug. And I also thought, dammit I’m the Mom.
When I look at Little Miss, it’s sometimes surreal to think that she’s mine. That the adult version of me grew her, birthed her and is raising her. That me and Papa Bear are all that she needs in this world.
When I look at her, I see me. I remember the feelings of being four. The feelings of adventure as everything is new and interesting. Of feeling fear. Of awkward worry. I remember the exhilaration, happiness and excitement of weekends. Of desperately needing a hug from my Mom and getting it because she would always down tools and squeeze me back no matter what she was doing.
As I stirred a pot of chilli, Little Miss grabbed hold of me. I paused, spoon in hand, other arm draped across her shoulders and gently squeezed back, leaning down to kiss her wispy hair.
And it hit me. Quite hard too. So much so, that I didn’t flinch when a piece of scalding hot chilli slid down the spoon and stung my hand.
I’m Momma Bear. Me. Little old me. I’m still a kid myself right? A 34 year old kid, but I still need my Mom as much as my kids need me.
I may be Mom to two bears a while now but sometimes it just hits you that you’re no longer the kid, the teenager, the girl who just left college. You’re the adult, the grown up, the responsible one. The one who pays the bills, controls when the tv goes on and off, the one who stocks up the fridge and says no to the cookies in the biscuit aisle.
I looked down on Little Miss and she’s so crazy tiny. I’ve so much mothering to do.
This is it. Being Momma Bear. An accolade I will never separate from. A perpetual part of me as no matter what happens I will always be Mom to these two girls. And yes, she may be a four year old who is desperate to be five but it’s when you start to see yourself in your kids and you remember the feelings that rushed through your heart and mind at that age, does the sense of responsibility to always be there for them creeps in. (If that incredibly long and exasperated sentence makes sense to you, phew.)
They won’t go looking to anyone else for those hugs only a mother can give or for the reassurance and love a Mom is so easily capable of giving.
But I feel so desperately immature to be the adult, the one who has to solve the mighty problems of their little world. The one who has to show no fear, have all the answers and be ready for anything. I have to be the one who knows what’s going to happen before it happens. All of which is impossible of course, but isn’t that how kids see us?
I know it’s how I saw my Mom.
She always had a solution like a Mary Poppins Super Woman on bubblegum crack! From the endless ideas to get me out of an “I’m bored” slump to answers flowing from her for the “but why” questions. She was always enthusiastic and busy but always there for us. She gave us her time as well as her love. And so effortlessly.
When I look back on the days after school, I see my Mom floating through the house keeping us in order. She never seemed to make a mistake and never looked under pressure.
Now I know my vision of her is blurred in bright technicolours and she will laugh when she reads this (Hi Mumsy) because I know her days with three kids were hard. Damn frickin hard. She could write the book on loneliness, frustration, sad days, happy days, achievements and cock ups. But all I remember is the Mom who bought me popcorn after swimming lessons and walked the twenty minute stretch with me to get the bus every Saturday morning. The Mom who was relieved when I asked to quit ballet but proud when she saw me dance on stage (The Gaiety Theatre no less!) The Mom who had movie nights prepared for us after school and let us lick the icing bowl once the buns were sufficiently iced. The Mom who always, without fail, helped me fall back asleep at 3am. The Mom who’s hugs and kisses were endless, and still are.
And I wonder, when she had her first baby at 30, as I did, did she feel like the grown up? Did she feel strong enough to hold onto her own emotions as well as those of her kids? Did she ever think, “damn I needed that hug. Dammit I’m the Mom.”
Momma Bear, I love you