Here’s what your mother is really, really bad at: (1) Operating chopsticks, (2) Negotiating in person, (3) Singing on key, and (4) Living in the moment. It’s not that I’m living in the future, because truly, I’m not. I’m as far from Type A as you can get in this department as I have very little future plans solidified other than to do my best to not be an a-hole to the people I come in contact with on a daily basis.
And I’m not living in the past, either. I don’t miss you as a newborn and I’m not mourning for my Alma Mater or the good old days or singledom, except I’m maybe mourning a little bit for that summer I did nothing but eat my weight in Cool Ranch Doritos and read novels as a “lifeguard” on a deserted beach.
And since I’m not living in the future, or the past, or in the moment, I suppose this is something I need to explain to you: I am living in my own headspace. In my headspace, there is no time continuum. It’s a big white room where all of the walls are floor-to-ceiling dry erase boards and there are post-it notes and scrawled to do lists with random dates and information and shoe sizes everywhere you look, dotting the walls like productivity ticker-tape.
There are good things stuck on the wall, like my favorite memories of you, and the way you pronounce bottle (bah-yule) and how you ask me to tickle your chin like a kitty. I used to ask my sisters to do this all.of.the.time and I don’t know how it got into your bloodstream but I love that it’s there.
And there are less-than-good things stuck on the wall, like the rage I feel when I stub my toe, and how angry I get when I hear people crack their gum and how I sometimes can’t compartmentalize my emotions enough to know where said anger is coming from. And how sometimes I project them on you, or your Dad, but never – God forbid – the gum-chewer.
Sometimes when all of my information intake is splattering these white walls, it gets jumbled, and you – my dear – are in the cross-hairs. It’s an accident, a fact of life I can’t change, but one that I try to anyway. I get distracted and frenzied because I’m thinking about that white wall even though we’re sitting on our black living room sofa playing Dominoes and the white room is so, so far from reality.
When you’re older, you’ll probably notice me retreat to my white room every now and then, and Bee – when that happens, I need you to save me. I need you to grab my cheeks in your hands and ask me to tickle your chin. I might say, “In a minute,” and I give you permission to say no. I give you permission to turn on an old Bob Dylan song (you know the one) and dance around the kitchen floor, spinning me faster and faster until the white room becomes a blur and the reminder notes fall down and it’s just me and you and you and me, right then and right now and right now and right then.
Promise me this, OK? You’re the only gal for the job.