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.


  1. Nice blog. My oldest daughter had a thing for earlobes. Whenever she was being held she would rub one of your earlobes between her fingers. If she was sitting alone she would rub her own ear.

    With my youngest it was a 'softy', any piece of silky cloth. It started out with baby blankets and handkerchiefs from my suits. It got to the point where sometimes in stores we would grab a pair of panties from the womens section for her to hold up against her face and rub while we shopped. There's a stable, therapy free adulthood in the making right there.

  2. "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."

    Yes - absolutely agree. Loved this blog.

  3. With my little daughter, she would always shove her little hands in my underarm....I think it was because of the warmth there. They were like little pockets for her. So damn cute!

  4. isn't it wonderful how precious they can be. What an awesome feeling when we can offer them what they seek just by being there.

    We miss you on myspace, but i am glad to have found you well and still blogging.

  5. I always feel as I'm stumbling in the dark, even when I had a beacon.

  6. Beautiful blog, Mandy.

    I wish I had some hair to hold on to.*

    *I promise, despite my repuation, that was not intended as any kind of double entendre. It was in the metaphorical sense.

  7. Beautiful story... I got such a visual of his little hand searching in the dark for his comfort...

  8. I love those "simple" moments that mean so much more than just a gesture.

  9. beautiful...god, kids are awesome, huh?
    except when they reach almost 8 and decide they want to try boarding school, just for a new experience--then they rip your heart out, even if you're never gonna let them go :(

  10. He sounds like a kid who loves you and is very secure in your relationship with him. Nice parenting, hon!

  11. We're all searching for something, fumbling around in the dark. At least he knows what it is and has certainty that he'll find it.

    For the rest of us there's just the blind faith that we'll bump into it eventually.

  12. *sigh*
    I miss you.
    this was beautiful

  13. Like a plant tilts toward the sun.

  14. Love the post. Love those moments. Juju always grabs my arm, squeezing it like her favorite Teddy Bear. I love the way you described this special moment. :)

  15. Beautiful and sigh-inducing.

    (ok ok... i'm catching up)

  16. Beautiful beautiful post. I'm never disappointed when I visit your blog.

    My girl, twisted my hair in her hand as a breast-feeding girl and then later, played with it, when she was upset, happy, sleepy, or needed comfort.

    I completely relate and now that she's fifteen, I miss it.