The other day, the low point in my child care dilemma, I sat on the ground in the living room and cried in front of the twins. It was the first the first time they’ve ever seen me cry (which I figure isn’t bad for 5 year old twins). And it was one of those strangely translucent truthful moments where everyone, for a moment, is their true self. Olivia stood in front of me with her hands at her side, wide-eyed, perplexed. Josephine, with her fingers in her ears, eyes welling up with tears begged me to stop. Violet, oblivious, played around our little troubled group, jabbering and singing.
There was a strange relief in being myself in front of my kids… not the Parent, Perfect Mother, Patient Listener, just Rachael the human being in all my flawed and weepy imperfection. They wanted to know why I was crying and I said that I was having a hard day and just needed fresh air. To five year olds, this was obviously sufficient information.
We gathered ourselves up and went on an outing to an indoor play gym. At one point, I looked over and Josephine was crying and watching me from a distance. When I ran to her and gathered her in my arms she said, “Mommy, please don’t ever cry again.” And being Mommy, I said “I promise.”
I grew up with a Mom that let it all hang out, that shared the intimate details of her travails (marital, monetary, or otherwise). So it is that I would be the Mother who protects and shelters, who would rather burden herself than her lovelies.
But in trying so hard to be perfect, I’ve missed a kind of loveliness — this shelter that one has in the arms of puzzled crying five year olds joined with Mommy, hugging and listening to the happy babbling toddler, waiting for the light to break through, waiting for rescue.