I’m sitting in the home of people who are strangers to me, for all intents and purposes. This morning at 6:15 I crept into the crying two year old’s room to get him up and once again, when he realized I was not Mama, he started wailing for his parents. The kid is a pill, there is no questioning that. But when he wails for Mama and Daddy, groggy and disoriented and desperately in need of the cuddling he’s been accustomed to in the past, I can’t help but kiss his little head and say “I know buddy, I’m sorry. I know you’re sad because Mama and Daddy aren’t here. It’s OK. Mama will come get you after work tonight.” And then he goes and curls up on the bathroom floor beside big sister who is in the shower and continues wailing until she can get out and cuddle with him.
Apparently Mama works a job that she hates, but she started it for the sake of financial stability and, she says, she’s not quitting. I understand that feeling. I fret and stress day after day as I buy gas and groceries and maternity clothes with savings I’m not replenishing, all the while facing student loans coming due. My older, wiser friends tell me money will always be a point of difficulty. No matter how much I have, it will never seem like quite enough. I would love stability, at least. I would love to be making at least most of what I spend. There is something attractive to having a two-income family so that I’d never have to wonder where rent money would come from.
But then I kiss the crying boy’s forehead and tell him Mama will be there tonight and I go sit and read my book in the other room (where he wants me) while he cries. And I wipe up his pee from the floor and blow on his hot cereal and realize that what matters most is being Mama for my kids.