“I like your earrings, Mama.”
“Thank you, baby.”
I smiled, congratulating myself mentally for choosing to wear long, dangly earrings different than my usual suspects. I tucked him into the car seat. He watched me buckle him in, then looked up at me.
“I’m going to get you some better ones for Christmas,” said my 5 and a half year old. He sat tall in his seat, somehow coming across as far older those 5 years.
I'm fairly certain I've had these earrings languishing in my drawer for nigh on 10 years.
This past Saturday, H took him on a Target run before we had people over. We’ve been reveling in our new space, and vowed to have people over every 2 weeks. We needed hot dog buns and beer and paper plates.
So when my boys came back, piling the plastic bags on the kitchen floor, I wondered at the shimmery straw baseball cap tumbling out.
“[He] wanted to buy that for you,” H said. “He insisted.”
I didn’t wear it for the party, but put it on to play tourist with friends the next day. I wouldn’t have picked it out for myself, but you can bet your booties I’ll wear it if my boy buys it for me. He was thrilled, and beamed with a sort of surprised pride when he saw it on my head.
I pause here, in writing. I could go a couple of ways. I could go all “mamas should wear the things their babies make and give them.” There are plenty of clay pots and macaroni bracelets to go around. I could also write about how our babies see us as much more beautiful than we see ourselves, and gee, shouldn’t we take some of that with us throughout the day. It’s Instagram-quote worthy, probably.
But what really gets to me about what my boy - and my girl - sees is that he sees me so much more clearly than I see myself. That clarity manifested in a baseball cap this weekend. It cleared the outfield wall, in my mind.
With our recent move, our new jobs, and the end of a school year, the mood has been tenuous at home. Some days we are giddy over the newness. Some days we simmer with the tumult change brings. If one of us bubbles over, the rest of us take it on. Even if I think I’m keeping myself on an even keel, managing the stress and staying cool, I forget that my family, and especially my babies, see me with x-ray vision. They see through any facade I’m using to managing my adulthood, and see me for who I am and what I’m feeling in exactly that moment. They take on my fears, no matter how far beneath the surface I might I’ve tucked my worries.
Standing in my underwear on a mildly tense Monday morning - and just before I got my earring compliment - H reminded me: when you’re tense, they feed off of it.
I might have bucked the idea, and wasn’t willing to hear it at the time.
And he’s right.
My children see me clearly, and know me better than I know myself. Sometimes, they share that knowledge by talking their father into buying me something new. Sometimes, they can voice it, in wanting to do my job or go to the office with me. Sometimes they aren’t even aware of their vision, but it shows in their moods, both light and heavy.
I need to pay attention to what they’re saying. There is no responsibility greater than honoring my babies’ sense of being. It’s a weighty one, for sure. But sometimes, it means I get to wear a sparkly gold baseball cap.