Wanting to be needed
I can’t sleep between the beep of your heart monitor and the nurse that comes in every few minutes to check your vitals. So instead I sit here and watch your chest fall, thanking all things holy each time it rises again. Watching you like this reminds me of being with you in the hospital right after you were born. For me the hospital stay was the best part of your first year of life. Not only did they take you to the nursery each night and bring me room service each day, but I also didn’t have to take on the full responsibility of you quite yet.
The baby years were not my favorite part of yours, or your sisters, childhood. When I tried to articulate to a friend why I didn’t prefer those times I stated “I like to be wanted and hate to be needed.”
Babies do a whole lot of needing.
You would just lie there. No way to move without me. No way to eat without me. No way to clean yourself, or protect yourself or do anything really at all. You needed me to do everything for you and it felt like a responsibility I could never shoulder.
And here we are five years later and you do all of those things for yourself.
Now I’m looking at you in the hospital and I would do anything to be needed like that again. I want to hold you so tight that I constrict you back into a time and place where my breathing, my eating, and all of me was enough. I know that I am wanted. You cling to me like a rag doll and your thin arms feel strong around my neck despite their diminishing circumference. You scream for me at night. In a fever. In a frenzy. Even when I’m holding you it is still my name that slips from your lips and shoots straight for my ears.
I know I am wanted just as I know that you are wanted. That I want to have your arms melt around me and I want to scream at nurses who hold you down against your will and shove bloated fingers and medicines down your throat. I want to bury my head in your neck and feel the soft skin of your shoulders. I want to murmur “you are OK” over and over again until I start believing it myself. I want to go back in time and feel like I am really, truly, needed again.
Because now when people talk to me about you, as if I determine whether you eat or drink or take your medicine, I just shake my head in frustration because I know that I’m not the solution.
It isn’t me anymore that holds the answers.
From the day you were born you have been taking steps away from needing me, one milestone at a time. It is devastating to picture it, you facing away from me and traveling toward another destination. Until I realize what you are moving toward.
You are the solution now. You are the questions and the answer. You are the only thing that you’ll ever really need.
You won’t know it for awhile. You’ll have to walk a long way until you get there. (You are going to HAVE to eat and drink at some point so you won’t collapse from exhaustion.) But you’ll arrive.
I hope that you’ll always still want me to walk beside you. But whether you do or not, I’ll be there. Wanting you. Wishing I could be needed. Honored to watch you get to know Lulu. Screaming at nurses, nuzzling your shoulders, and waiting to hear you yell for me day or night.