In my family, I am realizing, it is The Question.
At 6 weeks old, Rhys is asking constantly, "Is there room for me?" As in, "Will you wake up and feed me? Will you realize that my skin is cold in the wind? Will you stop what you are doing to rub my tummy and help the gas move?" Of course we are all following our natural instincts to meet his needs, even Papa and 5-year-old sister Grace.
Grace asks in classic displaced-older-child style, "Is there still room for me? When are my needs the top priority? Will you put the baby down and kiss my scraped knee? Will you feed me my tricky salad with your left hand while you nurse my brother? Will Papa like my brother more than me?"
Papa finds us in bed late at night, Mama and baby in nursing position, and big sister sprawled sideways. He asks as he rubs tired eyes, "Is there room for me?"
The question I am asking is about the inner Me, the woman I have found and lost again and found and then become a distant acquaintance of. Is there room for Me?
As I walked the stroller up the hills tonight I watched people in their homes, reading, laughing, a couple sitting on their deck in the dusk light. I wonder if they, in their own ways, ask the same question. Because it is about attention to one's true and honest self and validation from those we love.
I am challenged now as a mom of two, mama to a babe again, to make the room for myself. It means waking earlier, sacrificing already sparse hours of deep sleep to get a cup of uninterrupted coffee. It means self-forgiveness and self-love. If I love this body, overweight and marked and scarred by babies...if I forgive myself for snapping at my oldest daughter or blaming my husband for, well, everything...if I truly see myself in that space, I am in effect making room for the woman in the mirror. Making room for the truth of the matter. Which is that I am an excellent mother who sometimes yells, a loving wife who often forgets her husband is not one of the kids, and I am doing the best I can in each moment.
If there is room for us, we feel validated. However, as we grow up, we must make the room ourselves. If we are stuck standing at the end of the bed, waiting for someone to make room for us, we may just be there still at dawn. We must climb in, move a limb or two, share a pillow. But it sure feels good when those same limbs wrap around us and welcome us home to the family.