My ears and the tips of my fingers burn with cold.
I have just walked into the public library from a snow-coated city, have sat at a desk by the translucent walls. Outside the glass, cold steams from the face of the waters on a landscaped pool, the sun beginning its half-hearted warming.
I have just dropped off Sophie at daycare- only her third day, since she was mildly sick last week, and she is only going twice a week. She screamed. I know she will be happier there than she is at home (she always is- no matter how many activities I plan, she gets bored and angry with me at home), but it's horrible to leave your child anywhere when they are screaming for you.
I walked to a store afterwards, to buy some snacks to sustain a day of writing without lunch. Usually I buy hearty foods like nuts or whole grain bread, but raspberries were on sale. Sophie loves berries. So I buy them, smiling. Then I buy kefir, her other favorite food, and a protein bar for me. When I go to breastfeed her, I will give her all the raspberries she wants, so I will leave her again with that sweet taste in her mouth, a reminder of her mother's constant love, even when we are apart. I wish I could leave more than a passing taste in her mouth; I wish my love could be felt like a blanket even when she doesn't think of me, doesn't care about me, wants to move beyond me and her childhood.
But that's the horrifying truth of parenthood- that our love is weightier than we imagine. Whether she loves me or hates me, rebels against these foundations or preserves them lovingly, I am helping to craft her life-long reality. Every memory I offer will teach her what she deserves. Love? Joy? Peace? These are threads remembered, even vaguely, through the darkest corridors of life. The discipline too, the boundaries. These will mean something to her, something like: this world requires something of me, that my fleeting happiness is not the measure of a good life.
It is miraculous to be a mother, and even more miraculous to find time to ponder the experience.