Visiting Salvation: Snow Angels and Snapshots
Visiting Salvation is your story.
Allison and I were talking about The Attached (our children) and she told me how her daughter made a snow angel inside her snow angel, placing her head in the impression of her mother’s armpit and then spreading her wings. Beautiful.
Allison kindly shares more Snapshots of Motherhood. Enjoy!
I have thousands of pictures of the children (and cats) I’ve parented….but how do you capture the act itself?
If you had the camera and the right angle, you could look back at the first five years of being a parent and see:
That time you threw your back out while throwing up in the kitchen sink at midnight….and accidentally waking up your five-year old, and then having to talk him down, while hunched, with vomit still on your face, telling him that he really doesn’t have to worry about school, about being too cold at the bus stop right now.
The moment your mother-in-law walked into your disgusting, hasn’t-been-cleaned-in-seven-weeks house without knocking, finding you holding a screeching infant you can’t nurse until you get an answer out of your 2 ½ year old—How many vitamins did you eat!?!? HOW MANY??? And then completely ignoring this possible medical emergency to ensure that your MIL doesn’t further judge you as an unfit mother. Thank God you at least have pants on in this picture.
Sitting in your car at an intersection with an entirely blank mind. Slowly, the questions come to you, “Where are we going!?!?”, “Wait, how did we get here?”
Making snow-angels and seeing that even here, true-to-life, your daughter’s imprint is adhered to your side.
The picture of the black hole in your heart the moment the nurses taped your two-year-old daughter’s eyelids shut so they wouldn’t flutter open during her MRI under sedation.
The moment of sobbing in your car after you’ve left your four-year-old son at kindergarten for the first time when you feel lighter and impossibly heavy at the same time.
The ugliness of that moment when your mother-in-law suggests you go sit in the car and leave the baby with her to “desensitize” yourself to the “traumatic stress-disorder” you “clearly have”.
The way your heart bloomed the day your four-year-old says he just wants to go home and hug his “Bon Bon”, the sweetest term of endearment you have ever heard for his little sister.
The gorgeous summer afternoon when you picked up your obese cat to save him from being attacked by the neighbor’s dog….and you threw your back out and laid on the driveway for two hours until your husband came home. The way you asked your five-year-old to please, please, please go find the phone, it might be under the sofa, only to have him return twenty minutes later eating a popsicle. And through the rage and pain, you acknowledge, bitterly, that at least he got one for his little sister too. Little turd.
A series of pictures starting with disbelief, anger, disappointment, and one day hopefully ending with acceptance and gratitude (yeah, right) when the one person who truly knew the isolation of parenting small children just couldn’t (wouldn’t?) be there for you.
That one 37º day when you let her two-year-old joy envelop you and you both stomp in the icy drive-way lake until you’re both dripping, red-cheeked and exuberant. Another picture of that same day with your wet head against the locked front door you don’t have a key for, frantically calculating how many minutes you have before the cold gets her, whispering a string of “fuckfuckfuckfuck”, which she promptly starts joyfully screaming in her tiny voice “FUCKFUCKFUCKFUCK!”
The puzzle pieces of your heart that finally clicked together the moment you held that downy little head and then, two-and-a-bit years later, that slippery little head against your chest for the first time.
The way you slept sitting up for days, weeks even, with those warm little babes nestled in between your breasts, crying from joy and fatigue.
The moment you went for a bike ride with one kid in a trailer behind you and another on a tag-along bike behind your husband and the sun came out and your heart burst with the realization that “Dream: Family” was yours.
The way the air cooled in your in-laws living room when you said “Yeah, well, Mommy trumps Grandpa every time. I told you to clean it up, so you clean it up.”
The time you realized you just pulled all the wet towels and swim suits out of the car and hung them up to dry…and you almost stopped in your tracks when you realized how damn “grown up” you were.
There was that time when you put the last brick in the wall, when you announced “We’re pregnant!” and she didn’t say a thing for ten minutes, and your husband took your hand under the table and she finally said “Your mother must be so happy.”
There was that time in the car too, when you, of all people, had to be the one to say “Alright. No more butt talk. Every time you say “butt” from now on, you go to bed five minutes earlier.”
You might see how at one time in early parenthood, you set up the living room at night for the next day to be different and engaging and educational in special ways for your amazing, brilliant toddler. Now, you see piles upon piles of clutter and dirty dishes and a whole hell of a lot of “unstructured play time” where “y’all go play okay” while you check Facebook.
The day the guys who’d been building the addition on your house for months, finally finished, and you cried because you’d go back to being the only adult in this tiny bubble of unrelenting need, constant touch, noise and the longest days ever.
You might see an incredible aerial photo of a small, badly paved road in middle America on a warm fall day, and on this road is you and your three-year-old daughter in the most intense stand-off never witnessed. Twenty seven minutes later you might see that little girl cave, walk without being picked up and someone else standing just a little bit taller.
There would be so many photographs of the gray miasma of worry. Small and big. Those ones would so many times be your face, lit by a dimmed computer screen late at night, searching for answers, hope, distraction, anything.
There would be pictures of hope and unbearable joy, like the time you realized your children had become best friends, or the time they used their manners without having been nagged…and you thought “I might have done this thing right.”
There would be the progression of the hardening of the heart.
There would also be those pictures that weren’t so notable, of you on the toilet with two children and three cats staring at you, of you in the shower with the three-year-old’s face pressed against the glass saying “CAN I HAVE MINE VITE-MINS NOW MOMMY?”, of you sitting in a lawn chair watching your urchins play in a mud pile all day long, of you insisting they wear underwear and holding their hand when they get shots, of tucking them in over and over, of telling them throughout it all how amazing they are, the world is theirs, and so, so is your heart.
Allison, you words move me and your motherhood inspires me. Thank you for sharing Salvation.
I love hearing from you! Your words, your images, your story. If you’d like to Visit Salvation, erase my details, add yours and submit the form below. I will contact you with next steps.