Ella’s shoulder – A moment of light in the mania of motherhood

Ella & I are shopping one night. She has had a mammoth afternoon nap, and I have been learning about the non-negotiable requirement of 10 minutes of no-distraction time with each child so I decide to take her to Genesis PNP with me.

Shopping is one of her time favorite past times (I can’t wait till she can drive). It is a gorgeous time together; the shop are basically empty, we are dancing in the isles and I don’t protest as she puts all the things she “needs” in the trolley – like chocolate and dog food (we don’t have a dog).

As we are walking out, I am overwhelmed with exhaustion. Working days & broken nights and pre-dawn wake ups slam into my head.

“I am so tired I could fall over”, I think out loud.

Ella looks up at me with concern and with complete genuineness asks, “Do you want to sleep on my shoulder, mommy”?

My heart stops. I look at these sweet girl – challenging at times, stubborn always and very, very demanding some days. The neediness of mothering sometimes is suffocating. Yet in that moment her pure soul shines through all that stuff.

“I would love to”, I say.

She thinks for a bit and gives this irresistible smile and says “But my shoulder is too little”. She giggles at the thought of me fitting on her shoulder, and we go home.

The whole week I think of this moment. When she refuses to bath or insists on wearing summer clothes on icy days or wants to hit her baby brother, my heart melts and my eyes fill with tears. In my moment of need, my 2 ½ year old daughter offers me what I offer her when she is tired– to sleep on my shoulder. Her safe place. She offers me her safe place.

Everything of being a mom is giving, giving, giving. But for this moment, she is offering something precious of her own to me.

And so even though I can’t fit on her shoulder, I know it’s all worth it.

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