After being sick and out of action for the kids, they’ve both been extremely eager for my attention. Overwhelmingly eager! So puppyish and bounding and grabby.
I picture a jar that needs to be filled to the top. It can be filled with all sorts of things – maybe their dad will put some beautiful stones in it; maybe a creche teacher will add some fine soft sand; maybe a grandparent or an aunt or uncle will put in some coloured shells. But it is not quite full unless I’m there to add enough water to bring it all the way up to the brim.
Something about mum is different for them, not interchangeable with others. Others are important and missed when they’re not there, but in their minds, mum adds something that no-one else can quite give.
I want their jars to have treasures from all sorts of places, different gifts that help them feel connected to their family, their community, their history, their world. If filling the jars was left only to me I’d worry about missing something – I’d spend too long trying to find a green cats-eye, then I’d realise my collection of shiny paua fragments had washed back out to sea in the meantime. I would feel their jars were lacking if they only received things from me, I’d always wonder what others could give that I couldn’t. But to them, no matter how much others contribute, it’s not quite right unless mum fills things all the way up.
I wonder when this will change. Sometimes I wish they needed me less. Sometimes I’m scared that one day, there’ll be nothing unique I can give. Which reminds me that they need me to fill the jar with water, but they also need me to find that green cats-eye so they remember me giving them something special. After all, water is invisible.