The Funny Thing About Wishes

A Post-Mother’s-Day Reflection

I am one of the lucky American women: When I gave birth to my daughter, I worked for an institution that offered 90 days maternity leave – a generous amount compared to what many other new mothers experienced at the time. Still, I wanted more. What I wanted was not to leave my nursing, three-month old daughter behind each day. I yearned to have her close throughout the day, to lay together beneath the cottonwood tree, gazing into the sparkle of its canopy, napping on demand, singing songs my mother sang to me: “I love you, a bushel and a peck, a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck…

But here came reality: I had to go back to work.

As she grew, my stay-at-home mommy imaginings only matured with her: homeschooling that took science into the bosque, math applied to baking, pedaled P.E. on the North Valley ditches, and art practiced throughout the day. Her education, her experience, would include daily explorations of the natural and human world outside of four walls that would shape her into an open-minded, courageous, self-confident, knowledgeable, loving bad-ass.

Sixty days ago, Albuquerque Public Schools and my office closed as the coronavirus threat grew in New Mexico. Suddenly, I was a stay-at-home mom, homeschooling and all. But I no longer have any idea how to do geometry, my invitations to hike are met with a deep frown and groan, and the only songs she wants to hear are of the rap genre with lyrics that make me cringe. And the most significant shift? What she does want to do she wants to do with her friends, not Mom. Sigh.

During this quaran-time, however, instead of taking on the role of “Daughter Development Director,” I simply sat back and observed. The daughter standing before me, who was raised and attended public school while I worked full-time, is a young woman who I admire. Someone I look at in astonishment and wonder as she fiercely defends herself and her closest friends, shows remarkable social presence, packs a backpack and sets up a tent, distinguishes between a queen bee and a drone, prepares a wicked good tuna melt, and demonstrates how to determine congruent triangles. But what I’m most astonished by on this sixtieth day of stay-at-home is a daughter who still embraces me with unexpected hugs and always says, love you before going to bed.

Having the chance to be a stay-at-home mom came at the right time, when I needed to see, without distraction, that even without the luxury of staying home with my daughter through her childhood, she still became an open-minded, courageous, self-confident, knowledgeable, loving bad-ass.