The burning of the blood red moon brings me some source of solace. I bask in its blaze as I stare at the mountains in the distance; the brisk air nips at my skin. You’ve recently decided that nights are not meant for sleeping. Nights where I watch the soft skin of your stomach go up and down. After hours of silently praying for you to fall asleep, your eyes close. I crawl quietly into bed and curl up under the blankets knowing that you will soon wake and I will still be alone. What seems like just moments later, I awake to the sun barely peaking over the horizon of this place we call home. Your small hands are patting me on the cheek as if I were the baby, and you the mother. The blood moon is gone.
It was not easy becoming a mother. I remember the hundreds of lamp lit nights full of humming with you suckling at my chest thinking, What in the hell did I do? Maybe if I loved him just a little more he wouldn’t have left me. Nights when the Grey Goose hidden on the top of the cabinets whispered my name. Now my life has turned into putting you first and never thinking about myself. I sigh as I pull myself out of bed and look out the window. The last dregs of fall are clinging hopefully to the trees. I hear the neighbor’s old rusted truck rattling down the dirt road spewing out black clouds of exhaust. The rooster across the street is crowing his morning songs as I sigh to myself and think about when I use to need an alarm clock to wake me up. Now you beat the rooster to his job.
Sometimes I wonder if I am doing enough: enough to make you happy, enough to protect you, enough to let you succeed. On nights when the darkness from outside finds a home in the bags under my eyes, I wonder still. I see older men and women with hunched over spines and wonder if anyone ever carried the weight on their shoulders for them. I don’t want you to have weight on your shoulders. Life shouldn’t be so heavy it forces you to your knees. Will working two jobs to get food on the table to be enough? Will comments of, are you old enough to be a mother? Or, where is that kids father ever fade away? Will I ever be enough? Today I burned my finger while making your breakfast and you came toddling up to me with your favorite bear and shoved it in my face. You gave me a hug and in that moment, embraced in your tiny arms I knew, yes I have done enough, I am enough.
You stumble clumsily across the hardwood floor like your feet don’t quite have their ground. You linger closely at my heels, telling me a story whose plot line only you and I can follow. I smile wearily at your creativity. You’re so wise for only being two. Mundane tasks of laundry and dishes turn into your adventure of, “How much of a mess can I make?” You always seem to be right under my feet and I’m tripping. I’m tripping and falling in love with you more each day.
I see myself in you. I see myself in the way you look at the things you love with a twinkle in your blue eyes; you look at me that way. Today you picked up a fallen leaf in your tiny fist and stared at it in awe that so many beautiful colors could exist on one thing. I giggle and think about all the things you do not yet know. Like the fact that our dog Bo, does not like his “hair” done. Or that even though your baby feet don’t reach the floor like mine, that you are larger than life itself. I never force you to eat food I know you don’t like, because nothing beautiful have ever grown from force and I want you to flourish. I want you to sprout from the round and reach your branches towards the sky.
Life with you might not be perfect but the sun is slow and sweet as it rises and we’ve got nothing but time. I remember when you were small and you use to unfold like an origami heart against my chest. The first moment I saw you, I forgot how to breathe. I named you Aspen in hopes you would grow strong like a tree; in hopes you would grow stronger than me. Stronger than the green mountains outside our windows that fade into brilliant hues of reds, oranges, and yellows when the air gets cold. I want you to be stronger than a tree, I want you to be a whole forest of evergreens, timeless and beautiful.
This morning I bundled you up and we walked to the farmers market like every weekend to get fresh fruits and vegetables. On our way there we passed a field full of cows slowly grazing on the dew filled grass.
“Moo Momma, moo!” You said excitedly.
“Moooooo!” I said loudly and then proceeded to laugh at myself realizing how silly I must look right now. But that is the thing about motherhood and family, they don’t care how ridiculous you look, they love you just the same. Once we got there you pointed at the apples and smiled at me. I bought you one and you sucked on it until the juices ran dry and your fingers were sweet and sticky. Every day you seem a little bit different. The only thing I am sure of in life is your constant unfolding. You are peeling and shedding new layers like the brittle paint on the red barn across the street. I am falling in love with you more with each layer you shed.
When you were still inside of me, I held my hand against my swollen stomach and smiled, knowing that when you were born, your home out here would be as safe and warm as the one inside of me. It hasn’t been exactly as smooth as I hoped, but my fertile body, just like this fertile earth, is our home. The world is our mother and you are my heart. There is no one else but you. Your heart is beating for us like the blood red moon… willing us to survive.