In the morning, I’m a hungry mother. My eyes take in her profile, her impossibly long eyelashes, the outline of her lips. Drinking in every detail of this face that is more beautiful to me than my childless brain could dream. I get ready for work, taking intermittent breaks to focus on her. This face that I will only get to see this morning.
Even if it means I’ll be running late, I want to walk her to school. JP tries to help me get on my way, offering to walk her, but I won’t have it. This is my time. This morning is my walk.
We walk (and jog and skip) to school and as much as my mind is on the time and having to go off to work soon, I push it aside to be present in this moment. We might stop to admire an overhead plane. Watch the birds swooping from tree to tree. And at the door, our kiss and hug means more than it usually does. I linger. I squeeze a little tighter. The pause bringing her cheek into my lips – a deliberate moment filled with my hopes that her day is a good one.
Too quickly, our good-bye is over and she is already running to see her friends. I watch the back of her and quietly accept my retreat.
During the day I am a manic doctor/teacher/mentor. Rolling along at a mad clip: too many things to do, so many competing thoughts. Throwing on these various hats as I sequentially cross the different thresholds. First a teacher/doctor, then an administrator/mentor, then an employee, then a clinic physician. There’s not much spare time to think about how her day’s going. But when I see a toddler in the waiting room or children playing outside as I drive to campus, hoping to steal some moments before class to finish my assigned reading, the missing floods me.
I arrive on campus to find myself in a sea of the very young. The undergraduates look like children to me, my pregnant body belying my age and clearly separating me from them. Conspicuous. We’re in different worlds. I can’t even remember that age of self-indulgence, yet together we wade in the school waters of a campus Starbucks, caffeine-fixes and studying. My watch says it’s time for her to be picked up by JP. I wonder what she’s done today, the artwork left on top of the cubby, whether she’s coming home in different clothes than she left in. I think about calling.
In class, I’m a hungry student. I hang off the words deliberately spoken by my trim, brilliant professor. It’s a small doctoral-level seminar but she doesn’t often meet my eyes, which might bother me in a different place, a different time, yet, it doesn’t now. For the wisdom and perspective she’s delivering is feeding my mind. I’m wholly engaged and captivated by the material. Soaring expansiveness fills me as I am lost in thoughts of identity and adult development. It’s a quiet excitement filled with stored potential. Potential that bears the snapping promise of fireworks to light the nighttime skies.
On the drive home, in the settling of my mind rhythms, again I think to my family and the absence of me. I need loud music in the background. I need green lights. I need to be home, in the embrace of my husband and my home. I need to see my daughter in the light of the next morning. Breathlessly, I await her.
Hungry again, I wait.