We stayed in town for the holidays and on the Monday after New Years I took Josie skiing in the morning while Paul and Little K had some errand-running guy time. Josie and I had a good morning. Paul and Little K had fun too. Everyone was happy, except for Little K, who gets mad when I’m gone and clings to his dad on my return.
After dinner that night Paul left to play tennis. Little K was standing on a chair near the counter. He’s in that phase. You know, the one where he pushes the furniture around and climbs up on the chair or the table to open drawers and get out sharp knives or topple greasy bowls of fresh warm, but thankfully not hot, chicken stock. Anyway, he’s standing on the chair as he always does and he somehow manages to fall off and land on his face. It’s not pretty and as quickly as I can, I pick him up, hold him close, and tell him that I am here and that everything will be alright while he screams his head off. He’s yelling Mama! Mama! Mama! and twisting around, reaching out his arms, as if he’s trying to find someone else.
I’d met his birthmother a week earlier. Before that, I had very little information about his birth family and I imagined a faceless, bodiless, life of neglect and loneliness. I knew he must have missed people and places from that time, but it was easy for me to gloss over the past with the promise of the future.
Little K seemed so happy with us from the beginning. He started calling me Mama right away.
So right after his fall, he’s sobbing and stretching out his hands as if he’s looking for someone else, I suspect his dad, but for the first time another thought occurs to me. His birthmother is now, for me, a living, breathing person who, at times, had been a loving parent. He could be looking for her. He could have been looking for her all along.
Maybe in the early days he wasn’t saying Mama to me to get my attention or state a fact. Maybe he was really saying Mama? as in, where is she? What happened to my Mama? Where are you Mama?
I knew, even in the thick of his crying, that all I could do was keep rocking and holding and repeating that I am here and that everything will be alright and hope eventually he believes me.