Sometimes I want to tell her I see her.
I see her pretty makeup and her favorite blouse. I see how hard she’s trying to speak patiently to her child.
I see her exhaustion, where most people would only see smile lines. I see how hard she’s working to be the best mother that she can be, and she is a good mom. She doesn’t always see it.
Sometimes, she sees the harsh lines of her mouth as her lips grip and curve into a frown; how hard she’s trying to not yell at a typical-child behavior that can frustrate when sleep deprived and mothering round-the-clock.
I saw her when she took a deep inhale instead of shouting. I hope she saw it too, because it would have been easiest, perhaps, to notice the tightness of her voice.
I saw how her eyes had tears form in the corners, barely visible, when her child said a sentence perfectly. We were at the winter preschool party, and her little one was using her words so well, saying “thank you” when given treats, and I saw how proudly she saw it too.
I know you raised her to say “thank you.” I see how hard you are trying to teach her right and wrong, as well as how aware you are that she will have her own life, and her own choices to make (that are much more daunting than if she wants a few cubes of cheese or not).
I saw how your eyeliner was perfect, and I know you have a younger baby, besides this child whom we celebrate with this holiday-themed classroom party. Did you have to put her in her crib or did she watch you in the mirror while you made your beautiful eyes stand out even more?
I see how you welcomed me with a smile, when we both felt uneasy. My kid talks about your kid and I “know” you, but I don’t. You feel this too, and you smiled at me like we were old friends. I see how genuine you are despite this semi-awkwardness.
I see how you chose comfortable shoes. I noticed because I did too. I instinctively put on my favorite short boots—the ones I wear everywhere because they are equally stylish and easy to walk in. I took them off, though, when I considered a dozen kids, and crafts, and food around the leather, and the fact that my ballet flats generally made much more sense. I see how hard you tried to be simple and fashionable.
I see that you are a person outside of being her mommy, and I understand.
I’m so focused on my kids. I’m so into being “Mommy” that I have to re-mold myself back into writer, and wife, and yoga-lover, and my many other roles after the kids go to bed, or within the two hours I manage to squeeze into a morning when the baby is asleep and the oldest is at school.
I want to tell you that I see you, because I want you to see me too.
I want you to see how much I love my child, even when I speak too harshly in line at the grocery store. I want you to see the cup of coffee that sits cold and abandoned on the kitchen counter so that I could get to the party. I want you to see that these are the best years of my life and the toughest combined.
More, I want my child to see me.
I want her to see that her mother loves her, but that I’m a woman outside of being a mom, and that I’m just trying to do my best, like you are, and I see you and all that you do.