My raincoat makes a swishing sound when sliding it over my arms and onto my shoulders. Each time I put it on some part of me whispers, “Thank you.”
I have lived in rainy Washington over thirty years and this is my first proper raincoat. I’ve had second hand, make-do coats faded in color. I’ve had affordable coats slightly too small. I’ve had coats with holes in worn pockets the rain easily soaked through.
But this raincoat, the tranquil color of the Caribbean Sea, is spectacular. It is waterproof even when angry drops beg to be let in. It has zippers and snaps that stand like sentinels shielding me from the elements saying, “You shall not pass!” This raincoat fits comfortably without judgment over my voluptuous body with room to spare. The sturdy hood flips over my head to protect me against the drizzle, the drops and the wind. Well sewn pockets cradle my hands while secret compartments keep treasures hidden from marauding pirates.
There is nothing more I could ask from this raincoat. It is everything I need and I am thankful.
I hope my two daughters are proof I’ve done something right as a mom. That in all the busyness of parenting I somehow managed to raise two young women who I am proud to call my own. They are building their own lives now and need less of me.
Now there is finally time for my thoughts to linger. “Come in”, I say, “take off your shoes. Let me make you a cup of tea.” My thoughts enter timidly at first for they are used to making hasty retreats when the frantic to-do list barges in uninvited. Slowly my thoughts begin to relax and stretch out inside my brain.
One thought that returns each day wonders whether during those wonderful, challenging, tiring years of parenting in my quest to be a “good mom”, I forgot to be a mother to myself.
While pregnant, I read books written by experts and chose calming music for our baby to hear as she entered the world. I took walks, ate healthy food and kept doctor appointments to track her well being. I was growing a person inside of me and had never felt more connected to my own body. Tiny flutters swimming in a vast ocean gave way to giant feet kicking against my swollen belly. I nested and rearranged in anticipation of the arrival of this tiny being that would call me mom.
In my diligent preparation I didn’t think how having a child would alter who I was. From the moment my first daughter left my body I was changed. I was now a fierce lioness. As she stared at me with brown eyes like her daddy’s, I was in love like never before. Five years later my second daughter with wispy curls and a stubborn scream was born. Without realizing it their well being was simply more important than my own.
Somehow in the whirlwind of parenting I managed to feed them. Sometimes chicken breasts grilled with steamed broccoli. Other times frozen dinosaur shaped nuggets pulled hastily from a box. I kept the house moderately clean by ignoring abandoned webs in ceiling corners. I continued to work, pay bills, plan family outings, wrap gifts, help Tooth Fairies hide silver coins, coordinate play dates, comfort broken hearts and feed our patient dog. I painted and repainted bedroom walls as the brightly painted colors they loved as young girls gave way to secretive hues they clamored for as teens.
And each time it rained I thought, “I need a proper raincoat.” It seems now like such a simple thing. When I saw other moms wearing proper raincoats I marveled at how well they appeared to care for themselves. I worked harder and faster. Got up earlier and went to bed later in hopes of deserving a new raincoat of my own.
And now twenty five years after becoming a mother, my home is quiet. My grown daughters are happy, smart and strong. Will they remember nuggets of wisdom I tried to sprinkle in unnoticed? Will they avoid mistakes I made and make glorious ones of their own? Will they know they are deserving of well made raincoats especially if they become mothers someday?
For me, I’ve decided I’ll never be without a raincoat again. When this one is faded with holes in its pockets I will find a new one to shield me from the rains. But for now this raincoat, the color of the tranquil Caribbean Sea is everything I need and I am thankful.