I dropped Max off at Tata's. He was quietly sitting in his stroller as we approached her door. The hallway dark as I hadn't tripped the minuterie to light the way. I stood for a second before turning on the light but then Tata opened the door and was waiting for us. She greeted us with a warm smile and reached out to get Max out of the stroller. She glanced at me and her face changed. I guess I wasn't hiding my feelings very well. I was wearing my emotions like a huge billboard across my forehead.
Just a few minutes before arriving to Tata's, Max and I strolled through the park by her apt and I saw a group of older women practicing Tai Chi. The build of these women, the way they held their hands and the way they fixed their hair reminded me so much of my mother. One woman in particular was intrigued by my presence and she studied my face. A smiled appeared and she waved. I smiled back shyly and I felt the tears stinging my eyes. Any one of those women could have been my mother. I wished that she was one of them.
Tata motioned for me to come in and I went and sat down on the her couch as she filled me in on the day's activities. Max was going to be Tata's only charge for the day as the other two children were on vacation. I hugged Max to begin the goodbye process and he grasped tightly to my coat. Tata watched but mostly looking at me, studying my face. I felt the tears rising. I quickly stood up and I said "bye bye" to Max and he waved and said, "Ba, ba, Ma Ma". Before I ever realized it I was crying. I rushed for the door because I did not want Tata to see me upset. When I am missing my mother and someone asks me what's wrong, I can not lie and say it's something else. I tell them that my mother died and I miss her. But responses like this make people uncomfortable so I try to avoid them if I can. She stood in the doorway, shielding Max with her shoulder. I stood in the dark hallway pressing the elevator button as sheets of tears streamed down my face. As I turned to bid them goodbye, Tata quickly mentioned that Max shouldn't see me upset because that would only upset him. But I looked back at Max with tears in my eyes and he smiled and reached out for me. Giving me a sympathetic smile. One I've seen so many times when I am sad and missing my mom. I said, "bye bye" and let the elevator door close.
Should I let Max see me upset? Of course, he should see me upset. If anything, Max has seen the entire array of emotions that I own. I don't cry everyday but I do cry most days. I miss my mom and I tell Max that everyday. We look at her photo and I talk about her to him. He clutches the photo and gives it kisses. I honestly believe he understands.
In the afternoon, I went to pick up Max and he was so excited to see me. He held his arms out to me, letting me falls into them as I inhaled his sweet baby scent. The melancholia of today just seemed to melt away in that moment. Walking home in the rain as my Converse sloshed and my wool coat hung heavy on my shoulders, I felt better. I imagined my mom if I had the chance to tell her about the cafe and I could see her reaction. Her clap and little jump that she'd do when she was excited about something. And before I knew it I was imitating her. I was standing in front of Max in the stroller clapping and jumping and Max broke into a series of baby giggles and clapped himself.
I will never hide my feelings from Max. Omma never hid hers from me and that is one of the strongest memories I keep of her.