We’ve just moved into our RV. We’re living the family dream.
My two-year-old son and I are alone after dark for the first time since he was born and nothing is the same. Daddy is working the dinner shift at a local diner. We’re not in a neighborhood where head lights drag slow-moving shadows along our walls, but in a quiet campground ten miles into the corn fields. Our new home is foreign. I’m the foreigner. My son is at home anywhere, with anyone.
Devyn and I have eaten dinner. I cleaned up while he played and now there’s no plan but to wait for daddy to come home from work. Outside is darkness. Inside we’re surrounded by brown paneled walls, late 70’s orange and green furniture, ghosts of hope and visions of what may come. Time loses meaning here, barely inches forward. Nothing else to clean, nothing new for me to read, nothing else to distract me from loneliness and I don’t even know that’s what I’ve been trying to do.
My son sees none of this gathering sadness and my internal struggle to stay emotionally level. He sees me slowing down. He knows what he likes, what we always do when mom sits down. First he nurses, then we read. Only this time, grandma isn’t in the next recliner sipping hot tea and daddy isn’t sitting on the couch telling jokes.
There is only me and a magnificent spirit, a soul in my care, and I’m ready to break apart, to climb straight out of my skin. I breathe into the moment. I have no choice. Devyn brings a book of Mother Goose nursery rhymes to my lap, one we haven’t read together before.
I’m not consciously considering the immensity of what has changed or how we’ll afford to take off before winter. I’m hovering on the brink of a nameless anxiety mixed with tears and a warmth I’ve never felt. This small living space makes me and my son two souls floating as if in a night dream. I’m the big one, the one who is supposed to love and keep safe the small, fragile one. I am the one who is supposed to help the other be kind, happy, beautiful.
Somewhere in a hidden cavern of my being I wonder how one so broken and awkward can ever succeed at being this beautiful boy’s mother. My son is so tiny for his age that when he sits in my lap, even my 5ft 4in, 125lb frame contains all but his legs that hang just barely over the chair’s arm.
“Mommy, read,” he says, handing me his little book of pastel drawings and nursery rhymes. As I sing each word, we rock in time.
Heidi Baker is a second-generation poet and story teller whose writing reflects inner landscapes shaped by journeys of miles and other measures: from Illinois to Arizona, work to home, childhood to adulthood to parenthood. Gentle, imaginative, full of honesty and wonder, her clear writing captures the sacredness of everyday moments. In addition to her growing body of published works, Heidi creates space for other writers, youth and adult, through facilitation of workshops and groups.