Christmas goes by far too quickly

Christmas has come and gone. I’m always amazed by how far off it seems, and then it is as if someone turned a dial and everything fast-forwarded.
I ate my weight in Turtles and poppycock, even though I vowed I wouldn’t. I even may have promised myself I would do better this year.
Alas, my willpower misunderstood—doing better seemed to mean breaking the world record of chocolate pecan gooey-things consumed in a 24-hour period.
I used to knock off a box of maraschino cherries in an afternoon and my family was in awe. Well, at least it resembled awe. I suppose it could have been something else; shock perhaps, disdain, embarrassment. Who knows?
But I’ve now moved on to the hard stuff–pecans and caramel, not an easy combination. Requires a good sturdy tongue and a lot of floss.
Aside of my rather dismal record of healthy food consumption during the pre-Christmas warm-up, I am sad. Thea went back to school last week and it was like letting her go the first time all over again.
My heart was aching, my stomach was upset, and though it could have been the poppycock, it wasn’t. I didn’t want her to go. I wanted her to stay where I can watch her being her amazing self, where I can witness the little things: the way she holds her head when she is listening, the way she makes a salad, all of it, even the way she brushes her teeth.
No one warned me about this. No one took me aside and set the record straight on having children. Children should come with a surgeon’s general warning: may be harmful to one’s heart, fatal even.
She slept across the hall from me for 15 days. I could hear her deep breathing at night, could hear her sneeze or cough, and I pinched myself to be sure I wasn’t dreaming.
She played the piano, she laughed, and she helped do dishes and entertained the dog. She let me hug her on demand, without complaint, without pulling away before I was done, without one single, “Oh, Mom.”
Now it’s over and I didn’t know if I could let her go again. If I could muster up the adult-ness to realize she has moved beyond the circle of my arms, beyond my protection and watchfulness.
She has grown up; they all have, but Thea did it last. When Aimee left, I had three others to absorb my sadness and so it went. But when Thea left and I looked behind her, there weren’t any more daughters waiting in the wings—she was the last.
When I drove her to the airport, I had to put on my “I’m a brave mother face,” which really isn’t all that brave and not even remotely convincing. I considered flattening all the tires of the vehicles and pulling the starters, and doing whatever damage mechanically that I could to the car.
I asked Mother Nature for a storm and she tried, but only succeeded in messing up a bunch of other people’s holiday plans. I’d apologize, but any mother reading this will understand.
I really don’t know how to do Christmas without my entire brood crawling under my wing. I need Aimee and her energy for games, and to see her quietly reading in an easy chair, recharging her battery, and laying her head in my lap to encourage my hands to stroke her hair.
I need Samantha acting out our favourite movie lines with flawless precision; her laugh deliciously evil and playful. Laurie keeps us all grounded by her winning almost every game we attempt, the silent witness to all that we are.
Thea is the laughter and the music, and now she has left and I’m having a hard time remembering who I am without them, without my mother uniform, and if I am anything at all.
wendistewart@live.ca

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