Sep 10 2012

There’s a message in my inbox from my teenager.

It’s titled “I NEED.”

Like that. All caps.

It doesn’t say what she needs. Not in the subject line. Only that she needs.

I NEED, she says.

Then I must dig deeper to discover the What and the Who and the Why that drives the need. I have to find the How and the When. And I must be especially conscious of the Whether, which is the hardest part. Whether I can fill the need and Whether I should fill the need. Whether it’s time to Hold-Her-Hand and Walk-Alongside or to Nudge-Her-Out-of-the-Nest-Because-I-Know-She-Can-Fly.

I NEED, she says. I NEED.

She’s onto something big, I think. Some profound self-awareness. Some piece of what it means to be human and angsty and not-quite-full. To reach and to stretch and to beg for help. Some part of what it is to be family. Some of the substance in the fuel required for flight.

I NEED, they each say in their own way.

And I feel like this NEED and this Whether sums up all of motherhood — or perhaps humanhood — as though her message and my questions aren’t just lying inert in my email box but find their way, every minute of every day, to the front of life.

I NEED, she says.

And my heart nods, Me, too, baby girl. I know just what you mean.

Me, too.