the hardest thing


Restraint is not me.

It sits like an anvil on my chest, squeezing the air out of my lungs.

It reminds me, admonishes me.

Tsk tsk.

Approach slowly, gingerly – lest she run.

Every day, I fight to neutralize every molecule of my being, wrestling with my very nature.

Restraint is not me.

It runs contrary to everything I am.


My love for my girls is a vast, wild, physical force.

It is not quiet or calm or tame.

It can be soft and gentle, but at its core it is fierce and messy and loud.


I hate being away from my girls.

I miss them every day.

The separation from them burns. I feel it on my skin, in the dull ache in my gut.


As I pull into the garage every night, the anticipation begins to build.

My heart beats faster as I reach the basement steps.

They’re closer.

I can feel them.

I’m home.


I can’t wait to squeeze them, to kiss them, to inhale them.

I live for their sweet smell, their soft skin, their laughter. Oh, the laughter!

I want to bound up the stairs in a cloud of electric energy, scream their names, scoop them up in my arms.


I don’t.



Katie waits for me at the top of the stairs. We drink each other in.

Strong, potent, unfiltered.

I breathe.



Brooke is nowhere to be seen.

I stealthily, carefully hunt her down.

I quietly sing-song, ‘Where’s my baby girl?”

A tiny voice repeats a long-practiced “Here I am.”


I reach her.

She doesn’t move.

I move closer, crouch in front of her, consciously smiling.

Fighting the overwhelming, visceral urge to grab her.

“Hi, Baby.”

“Hi, Mama.”

“I missed you today, little love.”

“You did?”

“I did. May I have a hug, sweet girl?”

“You may.”

I work my way in.

Finally I squeeze her. We laugh.


I brush away a tear as I head upstairs to shed my work clothes.

The fight is exhausting.

I just want to love her.

14 thoughts on “the hardest thing

  1. michelle –

    just what I needed, just when i needed it. thank you, love.

    sandy –

    you’ll find your way in. your little guy will show you the way.

    in the meantime, i welcome you with open arms.

    you’ll never be alone here.

  2. I stumbled across your blog about a month ago and I can’t tell you how moving and therapeutic is has been for me.

    My son is almost 15 months old with many red flags for autism. We are on a waitlist for an assessment and I highly suspect a dx in our future. One big red flag for me is the lack of exhilaration in his face when I come home after work. My oldest daughter can’t contain her joy when she sees me and often performs her happy dance for me. With my son however, I’m lucky if I happen to arrive at a moment when he’s not consumed with a toy and he’s able to cast me a smile. It’s so hard when I have to hype my own arrival with a big “mommy’s home!!” – But I do it, and will continue to do it because like you I can’t restrain myself!

  3. That’s very sweet how Brooke said “You may.” I would have a hard time restraining myself too!

    It’s so hard when we love them so much. Hugging Nigel is like hugging a surfboard; I’m just so glad he lets me.

  4. And you do love her . . . in the way she most needs. Her way.

    I hate having to close my eyes to “look” my son in his eyes or sneak in for a rare kiss, but it’s the only way he lets me come that close, the only way he will reach out his hands and touch my face in return.

    We do what they need, and we hope that’s enough.

  5. Oh Jess…. I know, I know, I KNOW all about fierce, messy and loud love. And having to mute it, restrain it, ‘put a choke hold’ on it.. until they are ready to let you in.

    You do love them, and they love you. Just like I KNOW in my core that my boys love me.
    But once, just once, to be ‘slammed into and bowled over’ with the accompanying excited shrieks.. Just once…

  6. Just had to share this… you can delete..

    Today, at tutoring as I was talking to the ( ) Center director, my Salamander came up to me from behind. He wrapped his arms around my shoulders, put his cheek against mine, tightened his arms and said “I love you, mom. I want to be with you.” And then he loosened his arms, straightened up and walked away..

    And it was GLORIOUS…

  7. I love this one every time I read it. And I love that this last month B has greeted you every night. You must glow from this new connection.

    I still remember the moment my daughter relaxed in my arms while I sang her bedtime lullabies. It was the day before her 2nd birthday and I cried. She relaxed. Her head was on my shoulder! It was verging on a snuggle in the dark. I could hardly breath, but I kept singing not wanting the moment to end.

    She relaxed almost every night after that.

    Now, six months later, I hold my arms out every day I get home from work and hope for a hug. One day it will come…I am hopeful.

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