Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Mother's Day Vow

My Mom is Special, courtesy of my daughter

My mom is special because: She makes yummy muffins.

My daughter has a wonderfully forgiving palate. My latest batch of blueberry muffins were a spectacular failure—I used dried blueberries which, when baked, became little shriveled blueberry turds. And the cake part of the muffin? Dry and crumbly. But no matter. In my daughter’s eyes, I made them ergo they were good. But as Christopher pointed out, I make and make and make and make (muffins and cakes and cupcakes and cobblers) but don’t eat. I might as well be cooking food for a ghost.

I like it when my mom: tickles me and snuggles with me and hugs and kisses me.

The tickling demands, as of late, have both increased and become more insistent. As have the reciprocal tickles. She sneaks up and wiggles a finger into my armpit, or raises both of her arms. “Try to tickle me,” she says, and instead of shrieking and dashing off in mock terror, she runs at me like a little lunatic desperate for tickle, the laugh, the relief from being in control of herself. Which is what she also wants when she tickles me: Momma relieved from that self-imposed tense order; Momma freed from the grimace; Momma laughing herself silly.

My mom is smart! She even knows: mathimaticks!

Oh my lovely delusional daughter. I can barely help her with her long subtraction and often befuddling word problems. I need to check her answers with a calculator (though I do this secretly, lest she think I’m taking the easy way out). Perhaps she’s referring to my mathematical cheerleading. I sit beside her while she does her homework and keep her moving through each problem, encouraging her to keep at particularly frustrating sums. “You’re smart,” I say. “You can do this if you take your time.” (I’m also not adverse to pointing out where she might be going astray and suggesting she return to incorrect answers. What I want to teach her here is perseverance).

But of course, there is my secret mathematics, the numbers and additions and subtractions and multiplications and divisions that I tabulate all day long. My brain is an abacus for the Eating Disorder, obsessively playing the numbers game: calories consumed - calories burned should = a number less than 900 which is the approximate calories needed to sustain a body at rest. (Though here I veer into physics as mine is never a body at rest, but a body in motion which tends to stay in motion.)

My mom is best at: running laps!

This one is bittersweet. On the one hand, I’m glad she identifies me as an athlete. Occasionally, I’ll bring her with me to the gym and we run around the track together, challenging each other to pick up speed, to run a silly lap in skips and hops, to run an exuberant lap in leaps and bounds. I want her to feel the same joy I feel in moving her body, in breaking out in a well-earned sweat, in being a woman who is on the move.

On the other hand, it makes me sad that it is lap-running that she has singled out as my talent. The metaphor for IT, the Bipolar Disorder and Eating Disorder: the endless, often pointless exercise of running in circles for hundreds of miles, starting and stopping in the exact same place, the monotony of spending all this time moving and getting nowhere. For example: where I am now. My husband asking me, yesterday, if I want to spend this summer in the hospital again because that’s where I’m headed (which replicates the pattern for the past 2 years). Which is Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Athlete or Mad Momma? The body healthy and strong, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound or the body sick and depleted, unable to hug and kiss my kids because that body is under medical and psychiatric lock and key?

I’d like to tell me Mom: I relly relly relly relly relly relly relly relly relly relly relly relly love her.

This afternoon, I was on the couch and my daughter yelled, “Smash Momma!” Both my daughter and son ran at me, hurling their bodies on top of mine, jockeying for position.

“I get all of Momma,” my daughter said, and wrapped both arms around me.

“No,” my son said, elbowing her. “I get part of her, too.”

“You get to share me,” I said, but that fell on deaf ears.

For the next fifteen minutes, they tickled and argued their way on top of me. At one point, my son grew grave and rested his tiny, warm hand against my cheek. “I love you,” he said. “I’m going to marry you when I grow up.”

“You can’t,” my daughter said. “She’s already married to Daddy.”

“Yes I can,” he said. “You can wear a wig.” My lovely little boy, claiming me for the present and future, keeping me by his side.

And finally:

My Mom is as pretty as: a Daisy.

At first, I thought: well, my daughter thinks I’m cheerful and upbeat. An uncomplicated flower. Is this what she longs for? A Momma who predictably shows up each Spring with her bright yellow face and soft, white petaled crown? A sweet, steadfast Momma? As opposed to me and my unpredictable, destabilizing hospitalizations, my flare-ups of mood, my tense manically-ordered Disorders? So I Googled “daisy” and this is what I found.

Daisy: a diminutive member of the sunflower family, often associated with childhood innocence, dreams, love, honor, happiness and repose.

Had my daughter developed some sort of floral ESP? I need to reclaim my innocence from the brutality of IT and treat myself as if I was my own daughter. I need to dream again about my future, one that promises recovery. I need to wrap myself in the saving power of love. I need to restore my honor and integrity and be a reliable force of good and well-being. I need to cling to happiness and allow it to restore my spirit. I need to take my repose and rest inside grace. This is my solemn Mother’s Day vow.