I can read my children’s expressions. Like little gems they display only for me. Often I see it like a crystal ball. Play by play of what will happen next. I’m lucky enough to see the sparkle of pure joy in their eyes. Or the moment right before they lash out. Oftentimes, I catch the very moment they need me. A flash. Their faces contort in a way that only mom notices. They struggle between remaining brave or letting it all out. Trying to wipe it away. I call out in concern, “are you okay?” They try to contain themselves. I simply ask, “would you like a hug?” They run to me with open arms and lay their heads to my heart. I wonder if they hear it melting. Letting out all of their emotions and releasing one big breath before they’re off again.
It all happens in a flash. Their faces screaming for help. I often wonder how many times my face screamed for help when I was growing up. How many times I had to gulp down my feelings because no one noticed? Waiting for the right hands to pick my raw, unique self up. Waiting to be dusted off and appreciated.
It sounds lonely and distanced from where I’m at today. Now my little family catches my expressions. They notice. I used to be taken aback. I used to yell, “I’m fine!”. Because I was so used to taking care of myself. Of being alone with my tears. Of being alone with my problems.
Now any sort of rhythm imbalance and my husband notices. He will look into my eyes and ask if I’m alright then surround me with a warm hug. I used to lie. I used to turn and hide. I used to place a wall between my feelings and reality. Now, I take a leap of faith and tell him my thoughts and feelings. He gives me thoughtful feedback and usually a good option of ways to help. Encapsulating love that’s full of recognition, safety, value, and honesty in one hug.
Speaking of helping. My son, Charlie, always helps me out. While I’m cleaning he will zoom around the house with a dump truck and pick up trash. He often cleans the living space and surprises me. Anytime I sit on the couch next to him, he jumps up and says, “I’m going to give you a shoulder rub!” He takes his hands and lightly presses my shoulders. He takes his time and I tell him “thank you for being so thoughtful.”
My daughter Flo nonchalantly asks me “how are you doing Crystal?” Sometimes on autopilot, I reply “I’m doing chores.” She’ll lightly brush my arm. Looking me in the eyes she’ll say, “no, how are you DOING today?” I’ll smile and stop what I’m doing to have a conversation with her.
As you may have noticed, she recently took up calling me “Crystal.” Some parents might not like this but I just go with the Flo.
To be honest, I used to feel like my name didn’t match me. It never quite fit. Like I was a lost, unpolished crystal waiting to be unearthed and renamed. After experiencing mothering, Mom felt right. So when she recently started using my name I asked her why? She said matter of factly, “well, mom, I’m growing up now and so I’d like to call you by your name.” I explained she can call me mom forever regardless of her age and expressed that I hope she would continue to. However the more she’s called me Crystal, the more it’s begun to click. It rolls off her tongue effortlessly. She gleams every time because she loves gems and sparkly things. Crystal fits all of a sudden. Now I feel seen and discovered. I feel like someone who truly knows who I am to my core has identified me. She has identified my common name as Mom and my scientific name as Crystal. And I’m okay with it.
Read more stories on Work from other Illuminate members.
Do You Notice Me? (a haiku) by Mia Sutton
Notice Me by Adeola Sheehy
Noticing by Megan Vos
Nurturing Noticing by Hannah Kewley
For the Joy of It by Katherine Mansfield
Notice Me by Amy
A Rose Grows in Brewster by Christine Carpenter
The Unpunctual Liberation from Anxiety by Leesha Mony