I see you there, sitting in the yellow club chair with your knees pulled up into your arms, gazing out of the window onto Bouvier Street (pronounced Boo-Veer if you want to fit in) in North Central Philadelphia. It’s nap time, and Atticus is upstairs in his crib — or is he in a big-boy bed? My god. I can’t even picture his room. Does that make me a horrible mom? You will leave in a couple of hours to pick up Ellie from her Spanish immersion school, and she will wave adios to Maestra Ana Lucia, the best kindergarten teacher ever. For now, though, you will sit, drink a cup of tea and wonder too if you are a horrible mother.
In ten years from today, you won’t wonder that as much as you do now. Mothering has beat the shit out of you, but you will know you’ve tried your best. You’ve learned the phrase Good Enough as it applies to your parenting, and prayed for God to carry the rest. For the other parts of life, you laugh. That’s not true. You make others laugh, and then you offer them another way to see.
That’s what you do best, you know. You do what you can and keep a sense of humor about it all. For some reason, you can maintain a birds eye view of it all. You can see yourself from the perspective of eternity. You look down from heaven and say, that’s so silly or so temporary or so fill in the blank. It comforts you, this knowledge that this story you are living is only a chapter, a line even, in the Great Narrative.
This skill will continue to serve you, and will be called upon more as the years come. I know you think this is hard now. It is. It most definitely is. But it will get harder. You will also be stronger. You will have skills that you might never imagine needing.
You will know that a glass of ice water is the first response for someone in the middle of a panic attack. Yoga helps, too. Breathing is vital. Acceptance is the way through.
You will learn how to get out of a bite hold. Do not under-estimate this knowledge.
You will know how to start a business and how sell a business.
You will know how to change a urostomy bag, refill an oxygen tank, and determine when the Dilaudid isn't enough. You will also find out how to order a cremation.
You will learn how to make an excellent Paloma, your cocktail of choice. (Your Mexican genes process tequila amazingly well.)
You will learn how to revise your writing by eliminating “to be” verbs and adverbs, though you are infinitely lame at doing it now AND in 10 years.
You will also learn that this moment, right now, both the one in ten years and the one you are living in 10 years past, is the only moment that matters. It’s all you have. This is the most important skill: Come down from your thirty-thousand mile view and see the frayed edge of your jeans hem. Feel the corduroy ridges of the upholstered chair and the round back of it holding you in. Listen closely to the prickly white noise coming from the baby monitor. Inhale the lavender scent left on your hands from spritzing Ellie’s curls before school and identify it as the same smell that will fill your nose and lungs nine years in the future as you douse your master bedroom — the one that now holds your mother’s hospice bed — with linen spray.
Sarah Braud lives in Franklin, TN with her husband photographer David Braud and their two children, Ellie and Atticus. She writes marketing collateral for brands that understand storytelling as the way to connect with their customers. You can contact her for consulting at email@example.com.
Sarah wants you to get to know Nadus Films, a film production company that raises awareness on global issues through documentaries, features, short narratives, and promotional videos for nonprofits and social enterprises. Visit nadusfilms.com.