the mother ship

Our family vacation to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, last spring feels horribly tainted because  the day after we got back, I saw Rachel for the last time. (She died  four days later).

So all those beautiful memories of the gorgeous beaches, fiery sunsets, delicious cocktails, incredible infinity pool at our resort, walking El Malecon (the lively boardwalk that hugs  the coastline), sight-seeing, enjoying scrumptious meals, and scoring quality time with my family are tainted. And that makes me sad. It sounds whiny to say I didn’t get to experience any post-va-k blues  because that’s not what I mean; I just mean I forget sometimes that much-anticipated annual family va-k even happened because of the tragedy that happened five days after  we got back.

And so because it feels so distant, this summer I made each kid a little photo album from our trip — one of those cheap plastic ones from Walgreens. They love their albums and are constantly pulling them out to look at them; they miss their family, too. ❤

And I love looking at them, too, since the memories really do feel ridiculously far away.

Which brings me to last night, when I was helping Maya tidy up her room and came across her album lying on her coloring table. Just staring at the cover, I knew what was inside and it made me smile.

One of the memories that is so clear from that trip is how clingy Ben was that entire trip — only wanting me, crying if he saw me walking away, just being really difficult. A mama’s boy since birth, he was going through a really tough phase this spring (he was about 18 months when we went) and on that trip, my brother made a really beautiful and poignant observation about how I was Ben’s “North Star.”

(Note:  I wonder if it’s a mom/son thing!? Maya and I are super-tight but I wonder if it’s because doesn’t/has never really have a preference between Luis and I …she  seems to distribute her love/affection equally whereas Ben definitely is more of a mama’s boy — at least, for now ;)).

It’s clear to me the bond between mother and child is intense and there are some things that are just inexplicable.

Even when he was a little baby, Luis would settle Ben for a nap so I could run an errand or go to the gym, but he’d somehow know or sense I’d left–even if it wasn’t me who had rocked or soothed him. He’d wake up  screaming and it was only me who could soothe him. Me — the mother ship. His North Star. And it would happen over, and over … most times I left, I’d get a text or call that he woke up as soon as I left or moments after.

Ever since, we’ve experienced the same thing time and time again — he somehow “knows” I’m gone. And now that he can talk, there’s no going back. “Where’d mama go? I want mama!” I feel for Luis, because he adores his little boy so much and he bonds with him great when I’m not around … they play Legos and cars and soccer  read books and snuggle and Ben “helps”  him with “projects” … but when I’m there, it’s Game Over. He only wants me. We’re working on it … but it’s hard. And kids flip-flop who they prefer so we’re hoping this is just a phase …But I will say,  it’s exhausting being his preferred parent! 😉

Another example of how mama is the mother ship … When we were in Chicago a couple weeks ago we were in a super-crowded market, and Ben was walking with Luis and I had Maya in another area of the market. Luis said all of a sudden Ben made a beeline for a woman he was sure was me from behind — yelling Mama, Mama, Mama and even though Luis told him it wasn’t me, he was hell-bent. When he finally approached the woman and realized it wasn’t me, he said my baby looked stunned and crestfallen. Fortunately, we reunited a few minutes later — but Luis said he’d never seen Ben that intent on anything. He  just wanted to be beamed up to his mama.

And then this morning I was reminded yet again of just how deeply he and I are connected when — though I had been absolutely silent getting ready for the gym — he still woke up crying for me at  5 (he normally wakes between 6:45-7). Fortunately, it’s easy to put him back to bed — all he needs is a quick snuggle, a kiss, a “big hug” a high-five and “knuckles” and then he laughed into his glowing seahorse (who he asked me to tuck in) and was fine … but he has this sixth sense about me that Maya never had.

I never knew being needed could be so [equally] beautiful or exhausting.

But that’s what motherhood is, I suppose. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

How about you? Was there a parent you were closer to when you were little? Is that still the case today, as an adult?




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