By Megan

Originally published at FriedOkra last month.

This morning Peabody came to me, whining, and held his arms up, buried his head in my legs, asking me to pick him up. Friday morning are PACKED with stuff we need to get done – preschool run, laundry, cleaning, last minute errands, it’s all a big Friday hair ball – so at first I rebuffed him and tried to redirect his attention by showing him some toys that he loves. He was completely unmoved in his determination to have a cuddle from me and his cries only became louder and more pitiful as I went through my litany of how-about-a-thises and do-you-want-a-thats.

I stooped to pick him up, frustrated, I’ll admit with shame, at his demands NOW, when a million other to-dos lined up and revved their engines menacingly behind me. He quietly lay his curly head on my shoulder and tucked his hands between our bodies. I felt him go soft and limp against me, as if the feeling of just being in my arms had immediately relieved all of his troubles. The warmth of his tiny body and the physical force of his instant comfort made me wrap my arms around him so tightly and love him so fiercely in that moment that my eyes quickly filled and a huge, aching lump formed in my throat.

As he buried his head into my neck, I shifted my eyes as far as they’d go, sideways to his face. In my peripheral vision I took in the blurred outline of his soft cheek, the curve of his nose, the dark contrasting ruffle of his eyelashes moving slowly up and down as he cozily blinked, lying there in this simple vulnerability, letting me give him what he needed. Light played around each arch of him like a halo. Honestly I could have stood and held him and beheld those precious fuzzy features forever.

I remember as a single woman in my twenties, after my divorce from my first husband, I did as I pleased whenever I pleased, I took care of ME, having long, uninterrupted brunches with friends, traveling, shopping, completely unattached, with no demands on my time outside of my work schedule. In the busiest, most frantic moments of my life as a mother and wife, I sometimes look back with longing to those days when I looked after my own needs only, luxuriated in complete self-centeredness and could read, sleep, play, work, DO exactly as I pleased.

But I also remember the deep ache I felt knowing that absolutely no one needed me. And that perhaps in my lifetime no one would ever need me.

In all that freedom to do only what I wanted to do, to please only myself, I was bound up tightly inside with this intense pain and loneliness. I talked to my friends about it, my sister, my Mom. I cried and prayed and worried and resented. I just … HURT. I was so vastly, cavernously empty. Empty like I never, ever want to be again.

And now, years later, the memory of that emptiness has faded so much that the freedom it accompanied sometimes looks glamorous and sparkling to me. From the crazy-busy chaos of caring for this family I occasionally peer across to those years of self-centeredness as a fresh, welcoming oasis.

And then I hold my son. And the fullness he stirs inside me flows fast and free and over-its-banks like a river in spring suddenly made new and amazing and vital again. I am needed now. Where once I had emptiness, I am flooded with more love and natural connection than I can sometimes navigate without holding my breath.

He nurses quietly, his eyes fluttering and hinting at a nap, but then, refreshed, he sits up on my lap, grins, and climbs down again to thump off and find a car he’ll race along the windowsills as I return to my work.

If he comes again and asks for me, I will not hesitate or distract.

I’ll gather him up and allow myself to revel in being needed.

2 Responses to Needed
  1. S Club Mama
    April 26, 2010 | 4:02 pm

    thnks i needded this reminder today (sorry about the typos, have a baby cuddling in my lap)0

  2. Carrie
    May 6, 2010 | 2:55 pm

    I had read this before, but somehow it was still in my reader & I came across it again today – it is such a beautiful post, and exactly what I needed today. Thank you for sharing this!!!

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