I don’t post an awful lot on social media, namely on Facebook. It’s not that I’m an intensely private person or anything, I just don’t figure that my dinner or my emotions or the spectacular view I may be witnessing is anything that other people would find remotely interesting. They’re too busy finding their own stuff to post. But every now and again I partake in the platform, just because I can. My most recent post: “Mom elastics are short, heart is full of happy.”
Within two minutes I had to explain. And while explaining, I realized that, for the first time, I was putting words to something that I had sensed since giving birth to my first child.
My “mom elastics” are not the proverbial apron strings that every child must detach from at some stage of life. I have a pretty strong hunch that my Mom elastics will exist as long as I do, and not ever disappear (much like stretch marks). I have three mom elastics – one for each daughter – that connect my being to each of their beings. When they are in close physical proximity to me, I am vaguely conscious of the fact that my elastics are short. Thick, fat and short, like the rubber bands that sometimes hold together large bundles of mail. The further away the daughter goes, the thinner, more tenuous the elastic becomes, like the thin clear ones that you can use in your hair (no tangles!).
I read this and realize how absurd it may sound to some – I’m presenting myself like some weird three-legged octopus (I have to say it like that because tri-pus isn’t a word) who is constantly trying to keep tabs on my kids. That totally isn’t the case. I’m just verbally exploring something that, like I said, has been there since my first daughter came into the world. I wasn’t even really aware of this until she went away to university. With her away, and her sister still living with her dad, I only had one child at home, and I felt oddly incomplete. Every night before sleeping, and every morning upon waking I found myself taking stock of everyone that “belonged” to me. It seemed they were all over the place, and I could literally sense these invisible cords that stretched out in the directions that my girls had gone.
At the end of November, my middle daughter moved back to the farm, and when I did my daily “stock-taking” exercise, I felt a little less tension when noticing where my invisible cords were. Finally, when my eldest came home for the holidays in December, it hit me that my invisible cords felt all bunched up around me, tired of being stretched and thin. Instead, they were slack and resting, and while they rested, I felt so whole and at peace. That’s when I named them my Mom elastics.
The elastics don’t just exist for my kids, though – my husband gets one too. I won’t go into too much detail on how I feel when his elastic gets too thin, for fear of getting disgustingly mushy. As much as I adore my children, I’m quickly learning to be okay with an elastic that needs to be stretched for a long time. They’re supposed to. With my husband, though, I don’t like having that elastic stretched for too long. (As an aside, this has nothing to do with the whole “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” thing that was popular forever ago, either. I don’t mean that kind of rubber band energy. I just mean a connection to the physical proximity of the other person.)
When I first posted my Mom elastic comment on social media, a few people wondered if I’d lost my marbles, and just what was I doing collecting rubber bands anyway? Once I explained myself a little, though, I was amazed at how many people “got it.” When chatting about it with friends, they explained that they, too, often felt a physical connectivity to their offspring that, while not debilitating in any way, was definitely present, and definitely real.
I imagine that’s what it is to be a parent – to have invisible elastics that connect you to your children in some bizarre, supernatural way. There’s nothing about the elastics that urges an action to completion – they just are. They make me spatially aware of where my kids are in my universe – one’s gone up north for the weekend with friends, leaving me with a medium stretch that literally reaches north. One’s gone on a holiday to Cuba – that’s a pretty thin stretch that heads south and is pretty taut with the tension I feel until she’s back. And one’s across the hall in her bed, safe and asleep under my roof. That stretch is taking a rest.
As I said earlier, I’m pretty sure I’ll have my Mom elastics my whole life, and as my girls grow and travel and do all the things they’re supposed to do with their lives, my Mom elastics will stretch and recoil, and any energy that may be left in their wake will remain where it is, so that eventually a beautiful tapestry will be created out of the elastics that bind three gorgeous human beings to the human being that brought them into the world. In my mind, that tapestry will create a wonderful basket and my Mom elastics will make up a cocoon of love.