When I can’t sleep at night I make my way to my favorite seat in the house, Emmy’s rocking chair. Tom bought it for me before she was born. When trying out upholstered rockers, I knew instantly that this was the one. The back is wonderfully soft and comes up high enough that you can lay your head back. Also, the arms are low enough to be comfortable, a rare thing to find in rockers. It’s a glider with a footstool, and often the rocking is so smooth that I can doze off in that wonderful chair.
The other night I tucked Em in bed, and she took my hand. “I know that sometimes you come in here and rock in my chair,” she said. “It makes me happy.”
I hadn’t realized that she was aware of my presence in the dead hours of night, but she was. Children without close siblings or any siblings don’t know the comfort of having someone near at hand when there are shadows on the wall or when bad dreams frighten. When I was little, I had my little sister close by. When we were small, we had a double bed, and there was absolutely nothing more comforting than to feel my warm little sister by my back at night. We shared our secret plans for playing the next day and all our sisterly secrets. When she was near, all was well.
Charlie and Sammy were the same way. When they were small, I moved to a duplex with three bedrooms, the third being a perfectly-sized little room for my three-year-old, Sammy. I bought a twin bed and set it up for him with a cowboy bedspread, thinking he’d like having his own little place. But every morning, I kept finding either Charlie curled up on Sammy’s bed or Sammy curled up on Charlie’s bed. They didn’t care about having their own space. They wanted the comfort of having each other nearby at night. So I got a double bed for Charlie’s room, and they were pleased as punch to be back in the same cozy bedroom.
I read an article once about a movie celebrity who had two young children. She had a huge house in New England, and there was an accompanying photo spread of the luxury bedrooms fitted out by a famous designer. But one line in particular in the story caught my eye. It was beneath a photo of a tiny bedroom at the top of the house with twin beds in it, a very simple place. “For some reason, they only want to sleep up here in this small room,” said the star. “They like it here.”
No amount of money can buy the sense of cozy, of having someone nearby at night. I can’t provide a little sister for Emmy, but she seems comforted to know that occasionally, her mother is there in the dark, rocking quietly, watching over her.
“Remember, Mama,” she often says to me. “If you can’t sleep, you can always rock in my chair…”
With Mother’s Day approaching, I think that’s what I want all six of my children to remember most: That I am there for them always, even if I’m out of sight, that I am loving them, concerned for them, always wanting the best for them. Nothing matters to me more than that as a mom. Whatever else I do in life, it’s nothing if my children don’t know they have my forever love. It’s unconditional. I have had children hurt me, make decisions that I don’t agree with. It doesn’t matter. They are not clones of me. All but one is a legal adult now. One thing will not change: As long as I live, I will be there in that metaphorical rocker in the dark, loving them.
I saw an old poem recently. This is the last stanza in honor of Mother’s Day.
~ Elizabeth Akers Allen