I’ve been thinking about all the single mamas who will spend this arbitrary holiday alone or working or for some other reason away from their child. As I sat down to write about mamalove or perhaps my students’ love for their mamas or my love for them, my mind quickly jumped back in time. All week long the memory of how I spent mother’s day weekend la última vez has been pressed to the forefront of my mind. Apparently, this is the story I need to tell.
Last year, I spent the whole weekend with the man I loved more than I ever knew I could. He had planned out our time together on Saturday, and in every detail it was obvious that he “got” me. He found what is likely the only restaurant in all of Washington with Lucha Libre art painted mural style onto its walls with a back patio strung with papel picado. We had mimosas and huevos rancheros in the sunshine. Then we wandered over to a chocolate factory in a restored and repurposed grain mill. We sampled salted caramels and stared up at a magical black metal spiral staircase leading to nowhere. We made our way lazily to the botanical gardens where we spent hours strolling through the greenery and holding hands. We went back to his house, made dinner, stayed up late talking, cuddled on the couch. I woke up early the next morning wrapped in his arms and prepared to pick up my child from his father’s house to spend the day with my baby boy while my honey spent the day with his momma. Sleepily lounging in my love’s embrace, I scratched my head and in disbelief pulled out a piojo. My students who had been passing lice back and forth like love notes had shared them with me at last. I wanted to scream, but I stifled it because he was still sleeping beside me. Silently, I began panicking. I reached for my phone and texted my ex-husband to explain my horrifying realization. He agreed that he should keep our son while I dealt with my “situation.” Then I woke up my honey con las malas noticias. We got up, and he searched my head for further evidence. I spent the rest of Mother’s Day with my head tilted at various awkward angles as I first rinsed with skin burning chemicals and then tried to patiently hold still while the love of my life combed through -tiny section by teeny tiny section- of my immensely thick, waist length hair to find and remove all of the nits. Just thinking about it now makes my scalp itch and my neck sore.
As wonderful as Saturday had been, the day I knew without a doubt that I was loved unconditionally and unequivocally -in a way I had only allowed myself to skeptically hope for- was Sunday. Not only did he sacrifice his time with his mom and spend todo el día painstakingly combing through my hair, but he never once complained. In fact, he apologized several times for the pain he was causing me (if you’ve ever had to comb through your hair with a nit comb, then you know how uncomfortable it can be). He made me laugh even when I didn’t necessarily feel like it. He never made me feel dirty or ashamed for having lice which is exactly how I had been made to feel when I had it as a child. He didn’t blame me for his missing out on time with his family or mention even the hint of judgement for me being the worst mother on Earth for missing out on the day with my son. Internally, I was doing a fantastic job of hurling these insults at myself, so maybe he knew I didn’t need any help. I told him thank you multiple times for taking care of me and for not letting me shave my head as I had proposed, but I don’t think I ever explained how much it meant to me to be loved like that. I don’t know if I even had las palabras para decírselo.
When I think about our relationship, there are a lot of good memories and a lot of hard ones, but this weekend stands out the most powerfully to me because I was held and seen and loved unconditionally in a way I had never let anyone do for me before.
Despite having promised to stay friends, we don’t really talk anymore, and I still miss him everyday. Isn’t that ridiculous?! Every. Day. Time has made the missing less sharp, less likely to take my breath away when it passes over me, but it’s still there. Sometimes it looks like a slow sweet smile spreading across my face. Sometimes it looks like a confused and furrowed brow. Sometimes it’s a giggle. Sometimes it’s a sigh. Sometimes it’s the realization that the only person I really want to tell about my day probably isn’t going to answer my call and calling anyway.
This mother’s day weekend I’m taking mi hijo to brunch on Saturday. In the afternoon, we will play in the park. I will make us dinner. He will forget it’s Mother’s Day weekend when it’s time for bed, and I will have to hassle him as always to brush his teeth and get ready for bed. I will not wake up with piojos, but I will also not wake up next to someone I love. I will be pounced on earlier than I’d like by a seven year old, who I grew and carried inside of me, who knows me on a cellular level, who when I was typing this knowingly came up beside me, gave me a hug and a sympathetic pat before returning to his epic imaginary Lego battle in his room. He will show me his love by explaining que “tengo MUCHA hambre.” I will make him breakfast, and he will smile and say “gracias.” And that will have to be enough.