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.


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2 responses to “I NEED”

  1. Oh Beth, this is so beautiful and true. And especially as my littles are getting bigger (although my biggest is only almost eleven), but the questions grow, and now Whether is becoming more of a live-in instead of only an occasional visitor, cause while I was fairly comfortable with diapering, feeding, cuddling and singing, when WHETHER I should or can did not enter in, now it is more and more relevant… Thank you.. And if to need is human, is to fulfill a need divine? Then your blog is up there…

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