Right now, I am one dimensional to my children.
To them, I’m the woman who assembles their lunches and listens to their stories and shampoos their hair (even though they despise it). To them, I’m the woman who likes to retreat to a quiet room and (gasp) can remember the days before the internet.
Their eyes spark with interest when I build out more dimensions of myself.
We gather around the dinner table—just me, my two boys, and a baby with pureed squash that is about to drip from her chin to her bib—and I tell them about how I built a fort in my backyard when I was their age. I tell them how I’d steal away whenever possible to read the American Girl series under a piece of plywood that rested on two sawhorses.
I tell them how sometimes my sister and I would hear a pickup rumbling along the graveled alley behind our house, and we’d scale our swingset as fast as we could in hopes of catching sight of it. Then we’d stay up there, on top of the monkey bars, because the sunset caught our eyes and we were suddenly pretending that we lived in the country instead of the concrete jungle of Tempe, Arizona.
But then I refill their glasses of milk, and I’m back to the woman they always see.
I think of my own mother, and it makes me want to know her better. To see more sides of her, because everyone deserves to be known.
But there were so many years when she held my little hand in her bigger one. I’ll always be her daughter, and I think those years of seeing her in one dimension make it harder for me to really know her—and harder for her to build out those dimensions, because she has so completely become Mom.
So maybe my kids will never know all of me. Maybe it is enough to open my story from time to time and then pack it back up.
I can hold in my heart the smell of the wet pavement when I walked home from my college campus in the rain, the thrill of having my writing read aloud in class, the quiet hum of the computer lab where I first felt a rush of inspiration that I would marry that boy who kept taking my elbow.
It’s enough for me. And it’s a privilege to open my story from time to time with my kids.
But when I think about my old self, the woman who wasn’t a mother yet, I realize she isn’t the woman I really want my children to know. I’ll always remember her fondly, and someday when my kids are grown, I may develop a better connection with her again.
But now, the woman I really want my children to know is right here with them.
I want them to hear me describe how I felt when I held each of them for the first time. How it felt to sit up in the middle of the night, cradling a newborn on a hospital bed, stroking those surprisingly plump cheeks and breathing in that intoxicating smell that will never, ever leave my head.
I want them to see the love in my eyes as I hold their hands when they get their first filling. I want them to see me bursting with pride when they swim across the deep end after a summer of lessons. I want their shining eyes to catch mine for just a second when they suck in a big, deep breath and blow out their birthday candles.
They may never see the real, full me. But I hope that in this one dimension I’m building for them, they see a woman who would rather be their mother than be anyone else.