Making Space

"Mama, there's no space for me," she says. "Please squeeze in." After only a few months, the reading chair  in her room is now too small for both of us. She has grown. I hadn't noticed. 

"Make space" is an oft-expressed plea. For the times when this need of hers is unspoken, her body finds ways to make her need known. It's as if she has made it her mission to find ways to squeeze in. As I'm typing, she sticks her head under an arm and finds her way onto my lap. "Mommy, may I sit here?" she asks, never listening for an answer. As I'm nursing her brother, she fills the empty space beside me and says she too is a baby, "your baby." On my bed, she steals a snuggle. At the dining table, she wants to "be closer." "Remember when I was inside your tummy?" she asks sometimes. "When I become little again, I can be in your tummy." I resist explaining why this can never be true. 

I'm an introvert. I need my space. I like my rooms empty so my thoughts can breathe. Sharing oxygen with another person, no matter how little, has its effects. I am a writer. I need my work. I like my words flowing, not interrupted by made-up combinations of consonants and vowels and endless emojis tap-tap-typed out by tiny fingers. 

But I am a mom and it seems like making space in my body for another being, another soul, was a lifelong contract signed in blood even after they cut the cord. 

I love her with all of my heart, or at least the part that isn't selfish and suffocating. It is hard not to be selfish when every part of your day is marked by bits of yourself being pinched off and taken. If I'm writing, she asks to hold just a finger, but takes my hand. If I'm eating, she'll have what I'm having—not her own, mine is "better." She is still nursing and refuses to wean. My milk is supposedly better than ice cream. "This is mine," she says of my breasts. "No, they're mine," I correct her. "No, they're mine, Mommy," she insists. "But I can share them with you, if you want." 

We tried painting together today. This is your paper; this is mine. No, no, darling, this is my work. Why don't you do yours? 

"But, Mommy, it's better together. Can I paint with you? See, I made it beautiful."

It is useless to argue. There is no me and you. Only us two.