“Look what I got mom! A new poster for my room! And it came with a free rubber band!” The delight on my son’s face was magical, as he walked through the door after school.
Earlier that day, he told me excitedly that there would be a book fair at school and asked if I could pretty please give him some money. I counted out twenty dollars and sent him on his way.
I remembered the feel of jingly coins in my hand while I walked through the book fair at my own elementary school, looking for something new and exciting to read. I was excited for him to go shopping all by himself and was curious what he would bring home.
I was watching him proudly showing off his treasures and his little fingers toyed with the rubber band he was so excited about. It made me think of all the things that I take for granted that he’s experiencing for the first time, with oozing enthusiasm. I wouldn’t have thought twice about a rubber band on a poster, but to him it was the bee’s knees and a handy convenience.
I looked at it wrapped around his fingers and stretched taut. I thought of all the ways that motherhood has stretched me. It stretched my body in pregnancy. It stretched my pain threshold in childbirth. It stretched my trust in everything I thought I knew being a mom would be like. Being Liam’s mom has stretched me so much and some times it feels I’m stretched so much I could break.
I always bounce back though, like the circle of rubber he strummed on like strings on a guitar. It was making happy music against the rounded cardboard, like the song my heart makes when he hugs me. Being a mom is an exercise of bouncing back from all that stretches to the point of discomfort and finding that happy medium of tension and relaxation again.
Seeing how it held the poster together tightly, I thought of all the rubber bands in my life that hold me together. All the relationships and rituals and niceties keep the tough stuff from consuming me and making me fall apart. They make me feel safe and secure, protected from damage of the elements, like my son’s precious poster for his wall.
He slipped it off gently and sped off to his room, eager to hang it in a place of honor. I considered al the things I’ve let go along the way because I no longer needed them. My mind wandered to everything I had approached with excitement but later found no longer served a purpose. They did what they needed to do at the time, but it was time to focus on the end result, like his masterpiece held up with little pieces of tape.
Motherhood might not have come with a free rubber band, but as I tucked my son in at the end of the day, I realized he smelled just like new books and fresh paper. I was overwhelmed with the joy of knowing he’s part of my story, and because he looks at me like twenty shiny dollars on the morning of book fair day.