Whose Lap Is This, Anyway? Some Thoughts on Motherhood

My youngest is an inordinately active two-year-old.  He and I were cuddling in bed the mother morning.  “Cuddling” is actually a misleading description.  Mary Tyler Toddler is not much of a cuddler.  He’s more of a rough and tumble kind of guy.  He cuddles, sure, but quickly.  He’s like a drive-by cuddler.  He loves to run to me, grab his affection, and then, BAM, he is off to the races.  This kid has bigger fish to fry than lazing around all day snuggling with his mama.

So in those moments when he does want to cuddle, I take full advantage, soaking the fleeting nature of toddlerhood in like it is my last time at the toddler rodeo.   Because, well, it is.  I vacillate between extreme exhaustion slash frustration and a miraculous state of being in wonder and in joy.  And I am not too ashamed to admit the relief I feel knowing he is my last.  It is well past time for this 46-year-old to hang up her raising-young-children-chaps, speaking of rodeos.

And with that awareness that the end is near, I am working hard to be attentive to what it is like living with and caring for and raising a toddler.  This age is a trip. Some days I want to laugh, other days I want to cry.  Take for instance the putting on of the jacket.  It seems this would be a simple enough event for mother and child. Invariably, every single time I reach out to my boy with a sleeve to put on, he offers up the other arm.  Every.  Single.  Time.  Mama takes a deep breath in, and calmly readjusts sleeves.

But I’m here to talk about laps.

Whose lap is this, anyway?
Whose lap is this, anyway?

As we were playing and cuddling on the bed earlier this week, my toddler announced that he would be sitting on “my lap” — not “your lap,” mind you, but his lap.  My lap, you see, was his lap.  I laughed when he said it, playfully correcting him, “Hey, kiddo, that’s my lap you’re sitting in, not your lap!”  We giggled together, the boy appreciating it was a game, but in no uncertain terms, he announced, “NO, MY LAP.  I SITTING IN MY LAP.”

I paused for a moment and realized how correct he actually was.  It was his lap.  I mean, the lap exists on my person, sure, they are my legs, my thighs, but those are really just details. That lap is his.  His spot.  His nest.  His.  He helped me understand.  This was not a lesson on correct use of pronouns, but a lesson on motherhood he was teaching me.

I am grateful to him.

My toddler’s insistence was a reminder of our relationship, how we fit together.  He knows that, at least for now, what’s mine is his.  His needs supersede mine, again, at least for now.  It is how this whole motherhood thing works.  I exist to raise and comfort him, keep him safe, provide him with everything he needs to grow and thrive and morph from baby to toddler to child to adult.

That is the gig.  Motherhood.  Mi lap es su lap!

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