{ {Mommy} }

“Mommy, it’s morning.” She says with her voice just above a whisper. The sun has just peeked above the tree line, but she’s been awake for over an hour, patiently absorbing herself in play and awaiting that sliver of sunlight to appear so she could come in and announce that it’s morning. Who needs a rooster when I’ve got my own 5 year old songbird?

“Mommy.” She says it just to say it. She sighs. “Mommy...” it sounds like a breath. I’m trying to will myself out of bed. “Mommy!”

“What?”

“I want to make a fishtank for my Moshi animal.”

“Mommy! I want to dance to my favorite songs on YouTube!”

“Mommy! Look at the art I made—I’m working hard to be an artist!” She announces all of this in the small space of time it takes me to go from the bed to the hallway and click on the coffee maker. I tell her that’s nice, that sure we can listen to YouTube, and, yes, your artwork is wonderful.

Time for coffee.

“Mommy! Haaaaalp me!” She bellows as I pour my cup of beige coffee—lots of creamer—wondering why I am so tired, why I didn’t drink more water last night, and if the cramping in my side is menstrual. Please let it be menstrual, I silently pray.

I go over and help her make a fish tank, which entails pouring water into designated plastic containers with lids. She’s pulling out all the Tupperware. She needs several aquariums. They need to be see-through. They need to be stacked. “Mommy, look! Mommy, I can pour it myself, I’m big now...Look Mommy! My aquarium is a city!”

And Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, makes it's own rhythm all throughout the day, sometimes all throughout the night. I can’t always tell if it’s that she wants me, or that she wants to simply know I am there, as a sort of quiet observer, taking in her childhood. A safety net. A home. A Mommy.

I sit, sunken in to my well-worn place in our old leather sofa, between two carefully arranged pillows, ignoring whatever background noise is going on, pondering the fact that most of the day, I don’t feel like a “Mommy.” I'm cozy there, sipping my coffee, still feeling 25 years old and sort of scared. Will this always be my default? Slightly buzzy in a sort of a peaceful scared? The passage of time is both mysterious and untouchable, and I wonder about how in the wide world this stuffed shark came to be in living room. What ARE shopkins? And how exactly did I come to know so much about LOL Dolls?

Sometimes, in the still moments, when my daughter asks me, “Mommy, do I have to go to school today?” I want to scream, “No! None of this matters! We should be learning to grow our own food, and raising livestock! Let’s drop out!” But Mommy can’t do that, can she?

Mommy is steady on the outside, yet confused on the inside. Mommy is thinking... should we be going to church or something? Is god everywhere? Can we stop lying about Santa yet? Why do people give me weird looks when I tell them my daughter is obsessed with talking about death? Why can’t kids do anything unsupervised anymore? These questions are constantly clicking behind my eyes, furrowing that space between my brows and making a well-worn path as if to say, "this is the map to your inner thoughts."

I have done so many strange and outlandish things in my life. I’ve sold scrapple sandwiches at music festivals. I quit my job to become a writer. I’ve paid way too much for boiled wool blankets that I rarely use because they are way too nice. But of the all the weird things I’ve done, being Mommy is the weirdest. At my best, Mommy and Billie meld into a single person as they move through their day together. At my worst, Mommy is on her own, and Billie only looks out through the eyes of Mommy, trying her best to come to grips with the presentation of the day.

As I push my daughter on the swing outside, I make fart noises and say, “Ew gross, you fart too much!” And she laughs like I am the funniest, most brilliant human that ever, ever lived. Which, to her, I am. Later in the week, she yells at me in the grocery and people I don’t know give me looks I do know that clearly say, “you are both failing.” But I don’t care because they don’t know: I’m Mommy, and I make all the best fart jokes. And also killer quesadillas. Fuck them, I think, as I push my cart, like a steadfast ship with a screaming passenger, through the aisles. This is "don't judge me" Mommy. And she is a total badass.

Oddly, I find is there are as many incarnations of “Mommy” as there are utterances of the word. As my daughter sing-songs "Mommy" as a request, a reply, and a comfort throughout her day, this Mommy person bobs and weaves to meet demands and fill roles.  The Mommy that crawls out of bed looking for coffee is different from fart joke Mommy, and grocery store Mommy, and school pick up Mommy. End-of-the-day Mommy is a woman apart, having lived all the moments of the day, she’s tired, satisfied, and has a two story limit. She has Mommied all day with reverence, joy, bewilderment, and likely some anger.

“Mommy,” she says after the second story, “can you cuddle me?” And as I wrap my arms around her she says, “I’m a baby and you’re a baby, and I’m a mommy and you’re a mommy.” And oh my god, how true and strange it is, laying there, tangled up in her little bed, that we are exactly the same, at once, babies and Mommies only made separate by the invisible passage of time. 

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