Thursday, December 27, 2007

Mama in the Dark

Last night I crept into the bed I'm sharing with my son while we visit my sister. I rustled him in his sleep and tried to shove him over so I could fit. He reflexively reached out his hand, his open hand, and waved it around with his eyes closed, still half-asleep, and I knew what his hand was seeking.

My hair.

When I first met my son in the hospital after having given birth to him, they put him in a little clear plastic basinet next to my bed. Every time I spoke to someone, that baby would try and lift his wobbly head and crane it in the direction of my voice.

My voice.

Like a plant tilts toward the sun.

That simple moment, that one infant gesture made me realize I was Mama more than anything else. As soon as he latched on to me to breastfeed for the first time, his tiny arm waved around, grasping until it fell on a strand of my hair and there it clutched.

Everywhere I carried that baby, he'd have one arm around my shoulder and the other one plunged into my hair, grabbing it by the fistful. Even now, when he is sitting next to me on the couch, he will absent-mindedly reach his hand up, without looking, and feel for my hair.

Watching his little arm wave around in the dark last night -- still mostly sleeping but half cognizant of my presence -- I knew he would find what it was he sought. Comfort. Security. Safety. Mama.

Clutched in his hand.

But for a moment, while his hand waved and sought, opening and closing, I envied his sleepy certainty that he would find what he was looking for. I sometimes wonder if adulthood is simply a matter of thrusting our grabbing hands out into the dark, knowing on some level she isn't there, and learning to cope with that.

Perhaps that's the human condition, our collective angst...certainly Freud would agree. But then again, maybe that's just me.