A few months ago, I was on a self-care kick.
I bought three mindfulness magazines made from recycled paper, and a candle that smells of books.
This was it. I was going to read through the magazines with the candle going. I was going to learn how to relax, and maybe even get some sleep.
The magazines sit unread in various corners and different piles. The candle is still sealed.
I’m still not sleeping, but that’s OK. I’ve discovered Hot Bench.
Neil looks at me this morning and says it’s my mission for today to go through the magazines and make notes.
So wait, there’s homework now? Self-care is a chore?
I kinda don’t have the time.
Neil was away two weeks and it was just me and Isla for most of that time. That’s fine. That’s my job. Sometimes I don’t even remember that I have a name.
And my kid is awesome. Amazing and clever and accepting. She looks at most things as teamwork, and she is more wise than I will ever be.
But she’s all that and still a kid. I get that. Funny and dancing with more energy than I’ve ever seen in one person.
‘No, today isn’t backwards day. It can be backwards day after school. Turn around so I can dress you.’
‘Not yet. After this show.’
‘This show is 15 minutes. We have 7. Hurry up.’
‘Then dress yourself.’
I turned the TV off.
‘Why don’t you listen to me?’
She mostly does. Other times I am genuinely curious. But then, she’s three, that’s the reason.
Her usual answers are:
Because I’m busy.
Because I’m experimenting.
I was ready to laugh of one of those lines.
But she didn’t say them.
Last week, she said, ‘Because you’re in a wheelchair. If you could walk, I would listen to you.’
She’s never said that before, and I was a good thing I was sitting down. Because my heart dropped.
I’ve cried in front of Isla before. I believe in showing emotion when you feel it.
She’s been the reason for all my happy tears for years.
But she’s never made me cry like last week.
I do get frustrated, sometimes, that I’m not on the same physical level as other mothers. (Except for the time Isla came out of my body, that was pretty physical.)
But then I realize I’m not other mothers.
I’m me, and my kid accepts me. I accept me.
Last week, I cried. Then I sucked it up.
I debated a political discussion. Mentioning that you should listen to people whether they can walk or not, disabled or not. We are all humans. I debated mentioning that technically I can walk, I just choose not to. Because I’m not very good at it. And I’m a better mother on wheels than I am standing up.
But then I remembered we had six whole minutes before school started.
I remembered that Isla’s still three years old. Nearly four, but still three.
And so, I met her where she was.
‘Listen to me anyway,’ I said. ‘Because I’m your mother.’ See, that phrase does work sometimes. Because she got dressed and out the door.
She left and I cried some more.
She forgot what she said by the time she got home. I was her favorite mother again. That’s convenient.
That night, getting ready for bed, she took a running jump at it from the footboard.
‘Can’t you get in from the side like a regular person?’
‘Yes, but I want to be like Daddy.’
I had no comeback for that one.
Also published on Medium.