I kissed my girl goodbye. I knew she’d been burdened with deadlines, and nothing I’d tried coaxed a more jovial mood. She wasn’t bristly, just preoccupied.
“Ohhh, I’m studying,” she’d quietly said, after I giggled and jogged down the stairs to show her a funny “grumpy cat” video I’d spotted online, while she sat in the kitchen, laptop open, focused on schoolwork. Reluctant to pause, she cracked a wee smile and turned back to her work. Noah rushed off to the gym. I fed the cat and rinsed the tin at the kitchen sink as Holly rose to leave.
“Don’t get them on me,” she murmured as we hugged, my wet hands suspended behind the heavy pack on her back. One hands-free-hug later and she was out the door herself, my “You’ve got this!” missing its mark, my “I love you!” a lame attempt at recovery. I laughed again, this time at my textbook “mom” self, glad at least for the chore of trying to get it right. There is no “right,” though, there’s only trying, I thought, when I scooped up the cat and heard it.
“Hold, Mommy,” Noah said a time or two, when he was little, but I heard it now in my head.
“Hold, Mommy.” Or was it Holly? Or maybe it was the cat, this time? I smiled as Posey nuzzled against my chin and leaned back, tucking in for a cuddle. (Perhaps this is how some cat ladies are born?) I couldn’t say for sure who said it (sorry, kids), but maybe it doesn’t matter? They both did, one way or another, well over a dozen years ago. The memory spoke to me now from deep inside.
“Hold, Mommy” looks different these days. It’s a matter of decoding the push and the pull of late adolescence, I think. I may not always get it right, and in my eagerness to “mom” I may sometimes get it wrong. The job, and the codes, they’re always changing – that much is true.
For my part, I know I can be a bit much.
Hands free, hands down (heck – hands tied behind my back, duct tape over my mouth!), “Hold, Mommy,” it is. The details and the distances may wax and wane, but I’ll never completely let go. (There’s therapy for this. Don’t worry, kids! You’ve got this!) Think maybe I heard it for my own sake? Perhaps. Oh, it gets all mixed up, doesn’t it?
“Hold, Mommy,” was simpler when they were little. I knew exactly what to do. But I’m not one to back down from a challenge.
Jennifer DuBose lives in Batavia with her family. Her column runs regularly in the Kane Weekend section of the Kane County Chronicle. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.