In the long years before Olivia and Joshua, I would, not too often, let myself imagine who I'd be as a mother, the grand roles I would play, the different "me"s I'd be: a teacher and a student, doctor and nurse, maid and playmate, nurturer, rulemaker, enforcer, coach, comforter. To some extent, yes, I guess I am most of those, at least some of the time. More often, though, it is the things I am--the physical items I stand in for--that are the essence of who I am now, what my life is now.
Like today. Today I am Kleenex. I am also a hand towel, a doormat, a scratching post and a chair; a ladder, a radiator, an engine and a lift.
I am a garbage disposal, swallowing half-chewed bites of soda bread from my daughter's proffering hand. I am an uncomplaining post against which she leans when in need of a rest.
I am a Jack-in-the-box and a radio. A Crayon-hued canvas. A carousel. A conveyance. A Cuisinart.
I'm a barrier. A windshield. A purse. A pacifier. Food.
I am a soft, conforming pillow for a dreaming, peaceful boy. And I am his blanket.
I am all these things. Taken together, I suppose they are a role after all--the universal role of Mom.