The other parents at gymnastics get these huge, unprompted hugs goodbye. I watch their kids rush toward the gym excitedly only to catch themselves, pulled back by some invisible thread, and throw the whole weight of their tiny bodies into their parents’ arms.
“I love you sooooo much! Have a good day!” they say.
I get no such response. Usually, unless I explicitly remind her that I exist, Billie will methodically pull her things out of her backpack, place them into her cubby in a precise order, then rush off to the balance beam without so much as a glance back.
In an attempt to get some sort of fanfare for my daily departure, I’ve finally incorporated a “find a way to say Goodbye” rule. It doesn’t have to be showy or even involve touch or words, but she does need to communicate that we’re parting.
Today, after her methodical cubby placement routine and in the midst of two other moms receiving the most genuine hugs from their kids, I tell Billie, “I’m leaving now, love. Can you find a way to say goodbye?”
She walks over to me, hands stubbornly stuck to her side, shoves her face in my chest, and screams,
“GOODBYE WOMAN. GOODBYE FOREVVVVVEEERRRR!!!”
“Oooh! Your boobs are almost as bouncy as the floor. Good job on that. Later, lady!!!”
…I’m starting to rethink my rule.
Billie: “That boy right there is the one who keeps knocking my blocks down.”
Me: “Really? I’m so sorry, Billie. That must be frustrating.”
Billie: “Really frustrating. I build and build and he just knocks my stuff down. I ask him to play but he just pushes my buildings over.”
Me: “Sometimes, when people destroy our buildings they actually help us see the flaws in our design. So that, next time, we can build something even stronger.”
Billie: “Like the pigs and the big bad wolf?”
Me: “Exactly like that.”
Billie: “So, then, I can build something so strong his tiny muscles can’t even touch!”
Billie: “But also- he kinda did a mean thing.”
Me: “Oh, yea, dude. That was a totally mean thing to do.”
Me: “Yes, love?”
Billie: “Didn’t the big bad wolf fall into a fire place and catch fire?”
Me: “Billie. You cannot set someone on fire because they knocked your blocks down.”
Billie: “Ok. Just checking.”
Flashback: July 28, 2013
Billie: Momma! I got jokes!
Me: Oh, yea? Let’s hear one.
Billie: Why did the chicken cross the road?
Me: I don’t know, why?
Billie: Because he knows I’m telling a joke!
Me: Wait- what?
Me: That’s a very interesting–
Billie: And then the cat crossed the road and the chicken said, “whatchoo doin’, cat? GET OUT OF MY JOKE!”
…Five minutes later and this joke is still going. Plus side? This is the most self aware joke I’ve heard in a while.
When I was little I was prone to epic tantrums.
Like, balls to the wall, burst your ear drums type tantrums.
One day, my mom noticed that I would calm down whenever U2’s “With or Without You” played. It grounded me in a very visceral way. It quickly became our song. Whenever it came on, we would smile at each other, turn up the radio, and sing it at the top of our lungs.
Billie is currently staying with my mom for the rest of June in California and, apparently, the song came on the radio. My mom explained that it was our song. Billie said, “I want it, too. It’s all of our song. We share it together.”
Now, if we can just completely ignore the fact that the song is about unrequited love and a severely codependent relationship then this would be just about the sweetest thing ever.
When I was little I never fully grasped the concept of a soulmate. I understood it like this: the soul was a pizza missing a slice and someone came along with a slice that exact size (with the same toppings and everything) to complete you.
That seemed lame.
It excluded a world of people, possibilities, and circumstances that I had yet to imagine.
I couldn’t stomach limiting myself that way.
Lately I’ve started to view the soul as a galaxy.
A vast and deep neighborhood of constellations circling in, out, around, and through you- unbound by time, physical form, or logical necessity. Just stars. And energy. And light.
And, by that logic, a soulmate is anyone who enters into your self-made universe (with stars and constellations all their own) and expands it. They give you more to explore, they offer answers to questions you didn’t know you had, they challenge and inspire you to get outside of the comfort of your own silly solar system and stretch into infinite darkness until you find whole communities of light you didn’t know existed. They bring parts of yourself to you that you didn’t realize were yours. They offer you a complete sky’s worth of different viewpoints.
A soulmate is anyone who gives you growth in that way.
And you can have hundreds, hell *thousands* of soul mates. You can expand your world an infinite number of times in an infinite number of directions, never limiting yourself, going as far as you can before the fear freezes you.
Your universe is only as grand as the souls you let complete it.
And, for me, my favorite little soulmate of them all is Billie. It will forever be Billie. She offers me parts of my heart that I didn’t know were missing. She challenges me, enrages me, scares me, and makes me hysterical with love. She’s the most brilliant galaxy that I’ve ever been able to set my telescope on. She’s precious and ferocious and terrifyingly astute. She has the ability to shatter my heart then completely re-inflate it in one sentence. She’s the perfect mess of emotions and tenacity.
She’s my soulmate, my heart, and everything that makes me smile rolled into one incredibly ridiculous child with the most insane comedic timing. I thank my stars every day for her.
And on this and every day I am simply thankful.
For whatever fate that made it possible for me to be her mommy.
For the opportunity to be invited into her universe.
I am grateful to have found a unique soulmate that completes me in surprising ways.
And I look at the sky now and I’m filled with peace.
I’ve been super sick today. I barely had enough in me to get Billie from school. When I got there, I was met by her teacher, her face stern.
“Today was career day and all the students were asked what they wanted to be when they grew up. Billie said she wanted to be a kitty cat. I told her that she couldn’t be a cat and she needed to pick a different profession. Do you know what she told me?”
“No,” I responded. I barely had enough energy to stand let alone continue this conversation.
“She told me-” the teacher stops herself short, deciding instead to make Billie take accountability for her reactions, “Billie? Billie tell your mother what you said.”
Billie looked at me very carefully, “I told her…” she continued staring at me like she was steeling herself for the worst, “I told her fine. Then I would just become a teacher so I can tell everyone what to do with their lives.”
And I laughed.
I laughed so hard.
Needless to say it was not the reaction the teacher was looking for.