“What? Say it louder!”
Her voice hurtles down from her upstairs bedroom door. It seeks me out on the couch where I’ve collapsed with the energy gas tank blinking empty. It seeks me out over the volume of Downton Abbey or Friday Night Lights or whatever other brain soothing show has agreed to offer reprieve for the hour after bedtime.
“I said go back to bed,” I toss back upstairs toward her.
I picture her squatted in the dark rectangle of her bedroom doorway. She’s a good kid, my Little Friend. She won’t trespass beyond the boundary of bedroom carpet to hallway wood. At least her body won’t trespass.
Her mind and will and voice desire nothing more than to be with me.
So she commands attention. Asking for drinks. Needing to go potty. Wondering where her rubber green frog has gone. Asking if it’s morning time yet. And when I refuse to budge my own body from the boundary of the couch, she demands that we continue communing for the day. Just at a louder volume.
“Say it louder, Mama!”
Half of my mouth smiles. The other half frowns. The frowning part is the good-Lord-I’m-exhausted-and-do-I-really-have-to-get-up-and-do-it-all-over-again-tomorrow part. The frowning part is the I’m-going-to-cry-if-I-fold-one-more-basket-of-wash-or-make-one-more-meal part. The frowning part is the dreaming-of-California-sun-red-convertible-with-no-diaper-bag stashed-or-goldfish-cracker-crumbs-in-the-seat part. It’s the part that grits teeth while yelling (oh, such a mature woman am I that I don’t go back up to tuck her in again), “I said, IT’S BEDTIME! GO BACK TO BED.”
But there’s also the half of my mouth that smiles. The smiling part is the motherhood-in-context part of my brain that floats detached from the nitty-gritty of life and hovers somewhere above my head like a trusty weather balloon. That smiling part of my mouth realizes that sleep will come, the laundry will be folded–or not, dinner will be eaten and enjoyed–or not, and all these other nitty-gritty frowny things in life will, someday, pass. My evening will be quiet. There will be no “Say it louder” command tumbling downstairs to keep me company or drown out my TV volume. And I might miss it. Just a little bit. That smiling part is the remember-what’s-important-and-cherish-it-now part.
So what I should be yelling back upstairs, as loud as my lungs and vocal chords can package it, is the following:
I LOVE YOU.
YOU DESERVE TO BE CHERISHED.
AND SQUEEZED TILL YOU GIGGLE.
AND TUCKED BACK IN BED AS MANY TIMES AS YOU NEED.
YOU’RE WORTH ALL THE SLEEPLESS NIGHTS…MISSED TV SHOWS…UNFOLDED WASH.
YOU MATTER TO ME. SO. VERY. MUCH.
YOUR THOUGHTS ARE IMPORTANT.
YOUR FEELINGS ARE IMPORTANT.
YOU ARE IMPORTANT.
(And I’ll say it even louder:) I LOVE YOU.
Now go back to bed.
I’m grateful to The Gypsy Mama for today’s inspiration and place to share some 5-minute writing with other inspired writers.