The last time...
you cried so pitifully, and so quickly after joy, was well over a year ago, before you got used to my leaving for work. Then, we'd nurse and cuddle, and then I'd say, have fun with Grandma, I'm going downstairs to work now. And you would cry like it was the end of your world. Until one day when you were twenty months old and I kissed you goodbye - and you barely lifted your head from the cat picture book Grandma had brought you.
I hadn't seen you cry like that since the day before that day over the cat book, until this afternoon. You didn't like the plan this weekend. Not that time with Dad wasn't great fun, the adventure of sitting in restaurants, eating things Mom's never given you, traveling around town, exploring bookstores. He took you to visit me at the meeting, you'd run to me, and then throw yourself onto my legs, grinning, when it was time for him to take you away so I could go back into the workshops.
You have the smile of the self-satisfied, because you've just recently discovered that the weight of your body and the strength of your hold have both grown so that it's nearly impossible to separate us. And what you can't do with 3 year old weight weight and lifetimes old will, you do with good old baby-wiggle. You want to take us apart – just try! Oh, you hated the whole idea of me being busy all weekend. Explanations had no meaning: it's so I can make homeschool more fun, Mama is learning too. But one thing kept you going, the promise of a puppet show at the end.
Today, in the morning, where are the puppets? When Dad brought you to visit at lunch, where are the puppets? Finally, the two of you returned and we took our seats at this final part of the conference, meant for attendees and their families. You sat expectantly from your chosen spot on my lap. I could tell you'd have a tough time seeing, do you want to sit on the floor? “With Mama,” you said.
So we found ourselves a spot and I crossed my legs. You sunk into the little seat my body made for you, pressed your hot back against my chest, your little head fit under my chin. I could feel your hair against my neck, extra silky since you'd let accepted shampoo for the first time in who knows how long, just a day or two agao. II pulsed with the beat of your heart chakra under my crossed wrists, as you pulled my body tight around you. Without awareness of my breath, I tasted the scent of angel food cake rising from my nursing toddler-child.
The puppetier stood, her face welcoming and motherly. She lifted the first puppet. Her presence faded, and the room fell still and silent. Your toddler twists fell into quiet rapture. What I wanted most was to see your face, but I could only get an impression of the surrender, because you were still tucked into me. What I could do was look at the puppets and listen to their story through your eyes, and my own eyes grew teary at your wonder.
The marionnettes, little more than swatches of silk, took us to a land of Africa and secrets bursting from the heroine huntress. They took us to her trials and her travels. They took us to her failure, and to her moving on. You were heavy in my lap as a sleeping newborn, body here, soul in places unknown and exotic.
The show ended in wild applause from all, except for you. I could feel your face crumple and knew that unbridled tears were on the way. I jumped up as much as I can jump up holding the near thirty pounds of you, and swept out to the hall. I passed a few questions on the way. Oh, she's tired. Did the applause startle her? I ran for a safe place.
Fortunately, you have the gift of language now, so I don't have to play guess and soothe like when you were a baby. I put my face close to yours, and whisper, tell me. We're well practiced at this, and you move out of pure feeling enough to say. “I want more puppets!” You grieve because the show is over. You loved those puppets before you saw them, they transported you to a place of unknown joy, and suddenly they have completed their time cavorting before you.
Sounds like what some have told me being a parent boils down to. I can understand your outraged mourning.