Sometimes, blowing on a dandelion gone to seed, I wish for superhuman capabilities. Then I count my wishes as the tiny seed umbrellas lift on the wind and scatter, and my popsicle juice-faced boy laughs wildly in delight.
I wish I could be okay with just four hours of sleep, instead of the seven I must have to function. I wish I could whirl through household tasks, setting things right, watering plants, doing laundry, and still have time to sink into a corner and read chapter after chapter in a good book.
I wish I could come home after a day of teaching, when Iâ€™ve felt every fiber in my being be endlessly tugged and frayed, as though my heart were a rope toy and the children a pack of eager pups, and still have something rich to give. I wish, after a day of reading, reacting, redirecting, reconciling, and reconstructing all the little important fragments that are meaningful to the children I teach, I could regularly have energy left for here: in my studio, after daylight has ebbed away from the walls, and lamplight pools at my desk. Energy to write two thousand words instead of two hundred.
I wish I could feel patience overflowing the bowl of my soul every night when Iâ€™m snuggling in the dark with my boy. Patience, as he reaches out his thin soft arms in the dark and wraps them around my neck, fiercely, in a lock hold. Patience as he begs again for one more snuggle, one more hug, one more kiss. Patience as time slips by and I become languorous, my eyes aching, my body sinking into the spinning dark as I sing tuneless melodies into the curve of his small ear. Patience, as I want to be right there and anywhere except there in the same breath.
I wish for more times when, tumbling into the sweet curve of my husbandâ€™s body, the prospect of following my tongue and my red-hot whimsy isnâ€™t in a dead heat with every cell in my body screaming or one more hour of sleep.
Becoming a parent brings your life abruptly to full capacityâ€”or full catastropheâ€”and sometimes both, at the same time. You donâ€™t really get this before becoming a parent, though everyone tries to tell you.
There is no way to understand before youâ€™re in the thick of it, how youâ€™ll simultaneously feel like a circus act and a soothsayer, mumbling, â€œIsnâ€™t that what mommy said would happen?â€ when the lightening fast extension of your heart falls headlong over the handlebar of his wagon after he's pushed it full-tilt into the couch, and then comes to you wailing, his perfect cheek already swelling.
The acrobatics of this kind of love leaves me breathless and aching. Also, often, it leaves me entirely blindsided. My compass spins wildly, truing to an imaginary north. I want so much, yet feel so small and brittle and insufficient as each day splatters at my feet overripe and bruised with too many demands for my time.
Maybe it doesnâ€™t hit everyone this hard.
I wasnâ€™t ready for it, the day the two blue lines showed up, and most days I still feel like an interloper. Arms akimbo, trying to balance my enormous ambition, my longing, my wanderlust, and my fierce sense of self preservation with the endless needs of my sweet boy.
At the playground with Bean, on a day off over my vacation, I canâ€™t shake the feeling that I donâ€™t belong at the green metal picnic table, discussing toddler clothing labels and snack foods. I feel the prickly heat of guilt rising up as I notice a thousand thoughts that have nothing to do with the fact that Iâ€™m somebodyâ€™s mom, crowding my mind. Pushing him on the swing, my heart swells with complete pride. Heâ€™s so adorable, tilting his head back and smearing a perfect grin across the sky---and then seconds later Iâ€™m somewhere else entirely: lost in thought.
A part of me understands that this intensity will ebb, or at least alter somewhat, as he grows more independent, but this fact seems so abstract right now when all I long for are six days back to back to sink up to my ankles in fiction.
Each time I pick a dandelion going to seed, I hold my breath, examining the fuzz, planning just how Iâ€™ll release my breath so that every seed will detach and float away. Iâ€™m good at this, and also good at finding four leaf clovers. I know how lucky I am in my life. I know how good it is, how blessed I am to be a mother. But I also know that most times, when I exhale in a quick burst of air, a few fluffy seed heads will linger like tiny javelins, right close to the stem.