In astronomy, they call the body orbited by a smaller satellite the Primary.

That’s me.  I’m the Primary.

For years now, I have been a fixed point in the universe about which my family orbits.  I stay and they go.  They are the International Space Station and I am Earth.  They are stars and moons and clouds and travelers with carry-on luggage for quick movement.

I am the home base, the number you call in case of emergency.

I am an anchor snagged on the ocean floor.

I will hold your place, hold your purse, hold your hand.  “Hold on, I’ll be right back,” you’ll hear me say.

I am steady and planted in cement and locked with all the padlocks on sale at every Home Depot in America.  If someone wanders away to explore, he or she can follow the trail of breadcrumbs and find me here.  Still sitting, still waiting.

They start calling my name from other rooms in the house as soon as they need me.  “Mom!  Mom!  Mom!’  If I answer when they start calling, our shouts turn into a weird game of Marco Polo.  They adjust as they shout, heading for me.  “Mom!’  “What?” “Mom!’  “What?”  “Mom!” until I am so annoyed that I yell, “STOP MOMMING ME!”  But they follow the sound of my voice anyway, a homing beacon that never fails.

I plan itineraries, buy plane tickets, wrestle the luggage from the garage to the house.  I wash their laundry, pack their clothes, collect miniature toiletries in a quart sized Zip-loc™ bag.  I check them in online and print their boarding passes.  I drop them off at the airport and I pick them up and I ask, “How was your trip?” and while they are gone, I carry on being here.

I am, I said.

To no one there.

(Well, hello, Neil Diamond.  Fancy meeting you here.)

Sometimes I want to be the one waving goodbye.  I want to ride a bicycle for a thousand miles.  I want to drive a car to Maine.  I want to fly over the ocean and land on an island with a runway so short I have to hold my breath while we land.  I want to be alone in the world, just for a moment.  Or two.

Instead of being the vendor holding the cluster of helium balloons, I want to be that one balloon that slips away and floats higher and higher until it’s out of sight.

I want to be in the parade, not saving spots on the curb while everyone else buys cotton candy down the street.

And yet, that’s just part of me, the part that values independence and freedom and adventures, the “me” that yearns to be unshackled and untethered, free to roam and poke around and daydream.  That part of me craves solitude and a ramble with only my thoughts for company.  Sometimes, I want to grab my keys and leave without a trace.  (But in a certain time-travel kind of way that would leave no one missing me.)   (I was that “me” thirty years ago, come to think of it.)

The other part of me signed up for this life.

I have no regrets. Really, I don’t.

When my kids think of “home,” I want them to see my face.  I want them to call me day or night to save them from catastrophe.  I want to be the stability, the dependable one who remembers to buy milk and knows how to cook Thanksgiving dinner.  I want to be easily found, within earshot, able to hem pants and offer advice and remember the street addresses to all the homes we’ve owned.  I want to be the holder of the family photos and the keeper of the memories, the knower of the timeline of our life together.

I am the Primary and I wouldn’t have it any other way.






“I’m here!”

I’m here.  I’ll always be here.  You can count on it.

9 thoughts on “Centered

  1. My turn to say WOW! Mel, you have conveyed the plight of so many of us Moms. I felt like I was in the moment with you. This blog was powerful and extended beyond the daily activities. Not saying it very well – your blog took me with you. Please do not quit writing – it is your creative outlet, a strength and a gift to readers like me. Thank you for sharing! Loved it and will share with credit:)


  2. THIS was your most powerful post, ever! Wow.

    Was going to say this was a tear jerker. But no, my tears ran as I read this. I have looked at your life and so often thought many of the same things you so beautifully put into words here.

    Thank you for your stability. Certainly they will all rise up and call you blessed!


  3. Wow ,Melody, that’s how every women feels if she’s worth her salt to help the family. To be there in thick and thin,know matter what, that’s what the Salt of the earth does!Yes I do know how it feels to always being there when know one else is.And how I would like sometimes to just run away for piece and quiet,:-) But someday in the not to distant future you will look around and see no one and hear no one,and know that quiet time has finally arrived.Will you be lonely? Yes some times,lonely believe it or not for the sounds of yesterday’s ,MOM,where are you?But you move on to greater things,GRANDKIDS!Look forward to it ,because the( Best is Yet to Come)!


  4. Its funny. I was talking today to someone about my son that lives a few hours away. He visits about 2 times a month. Walks in, as he passes by, he starts a load of laundry. Then grabs food from the fridge. After passing through the gauntlet of brothers wanting hugs, he makes his way to the bathroom where he grabs a shower, then eventually lands on the couch where he promptly takes a nap. He’s never lived in this house, since we moved here a year ago and he chose to stay in our old state. He’s 22, he had that choice.

    But the fact he does that lets me know that home isn’t necessarily where you grew up but in this fact, home is where mom is.


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