I have a vivid memory as a little girl. I was maybe 4 years old, cuddled up on my mom’s lap in our living room. She had a friend over, and they were chatting, laughing and drinking tea.

As I laid my head on her chest, I could hear the muffled sounds of her laughter. I can still feel the softness of her white button-up shirt, and the way she lovingly held my hand as she entertained her friend. I was daydreaming, thinking about things like whether we had any snickerdoodle cookies left and how pretty I thought her hands were as I ran my fingers along her palm like a spider.

I don’t know why this moment is so vivid in my memory, but if I had to guess, I think it’s because it was love in its purest form. Those kind of moments usually stick.

Even though we are separate people, mother and child, in a way we were one. I felt like I was an extension of her — one of her arms, or a leg, a finger or an eyelash. This kind of bond is helped along by having once been in her womb, but that’s certainly not necessary.

I guess this connectedness between a mother and her child, this inner knowing that there is oneness, is why so many mothers are in total shock the first time their babes have the audacity to be their own person! With their own thoughts! And ideas!

This parenting crap is a real kick in the jewels.

The concept smacked me in the face recently as I dropped my girls off at a preschool learning program. It’s a few days a week, helps give them more fun and socialization experiences and costs so much it makes me want to cry a little. But it also helps this mama get some writing done without someone constantly begging for “more wawa and crackies.”

The first day I dropped them off and realized the only butt I had to wipe was my own, it gave me a giddy sense of anticipation that anything was possible!

Yet as the day progressed, I wondered how my arm and leg were doing — being cared for and loved by other wonderful women separate from me. It can make you choke up when you think real hard about it.

This is why mothers cry at the school play and get frogs in their throat when they see their arm wander off into kindergarten or the wedding aisle. It’s why I choked up as I watched my legs run into their new school, so excited for adventure and a little too OK with me not staying with them, if I can be totally honest.

That’s what makes parenting insane — the constant barrage of contradicting emotions. The thrill of having the house to myself for a few hours and the longing for them while they’re away. It’s the inner-knowing we are one, but the acceptance that they are actually quite separate and will eventually be opinionated about me being all up in their business.

But I guess I can only hope that one day, when they are grown and on their own, they’ll have a vivid memory of our purest kind of love and remember to call their mama.

Anna Lind Thomas is a humor writer and mom to daughters Lucy and Poppy and English bulldog Bruno, wife to Rob Thomas and founder of HaHas for HooHas. She writes for momaha.com.

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