The weight of an afternoon falls heavy on mothering shoulders. We’ve been up with the sun, stretching food, pouring drinks, chasing messes, watching fingers close doors in fearless abandon. We create homes, we work, we scrub, we drive around and back again, we mend, discipline, and sometimes, we sit and hold, console, heal, and make safe the hearts of the tinies we grew and birthed and nourish minute by minute.
The afternoons are hardest for me. I’ve switched my hats and donned bandanas and worn my hair down and up, the escalator of motherhood. When the sun has warmed through walls, the soft breeze blowing through windows high and long, I feel my spirit rush out with the curtains. She hovers in the treetops, soaking in the green leaves and golden light; she settles in the woods, in the grass, on top of the water, anywhere but at home where I need her.
I fold, like a dandelion seed falling soft onto an open field, and I stay, roots too small for stretching, pouring, chasing. Curled in the mass of feathers and fabric that comfort my bed, I peer out from a cave to the bell-ring of a baby voice, “Wha’ya doin’, Mama? Come back in here, wif me. Come, a’wif me, Mama.”
And the sun and leaves and water soak me, and I don’t know how to come with her. I don’t know how to tell her the day that gives her life, makes her an effervescent stream of glory, has faded me to mist and shadow.
What happened, that the creating of a home has become a tether in my bones, me the marionette being pulled by crumbs and carpet and lost hair—what has made me feel so adrift?
For that’s what I am, an old man at sea, fighting a giant fish, pulling it beside my boat, for it is too big to fit. The work to get it roped and tied has worn my weary bones, and I have no strength left for the sharks that come to pick at what I’ve worked for. Drifting. Trying. Washing ashore with nothing but bones and burns for my efforts.
What am I doing, baby?
Well, I am breathing. Today, I am resting in the soft pools of your brown eyes, little replicas of mine. Your pretty little lashes question, concerned, and your tiny flower-petal lips kiss softly on my cheek. You may never know the healing in your tiny fingers, the way they bend like your father’s, the shape of your nails the same. Your thin arms are soft around my neck, and you try so hard to pull me up.
But it is not me you are meant to pull. The world will offer enough of that, yes. For today, I will pull you to my cave, and we whisper about princesses, and you think it’s a game. I smile at you smiling, and somewhere, my soul remembers where she’s from.
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Lakin Easterling is a wife, mother, writer, and avid reader. She spends her days chasing her toddler, Belle, and conversing with the elderly who are afflicted by Alzheimer’s disease or Dementia. She loves surprise coffee dates with her husband Luke, texting novels to her best friend, Laura Hyers, and being a college student. She dreams about being brave enough to get a tattoo, and believes in the healing power of a good cup of coffee. Her favorite nail polish is Sail Away by Milani. She blogs at http://threadingsymphonies.wordpress.com.
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