I think that my job as a mom is a lot more simple than I tend to make it. I am supposed to be a chair.
If a person is left on a chair in a pitch black room, for a while they might call out for a response, but finding themselves alone and doubting anyone is coming, eventually they would begin to reach out to see what is out there in the darkness. They would stretch feet into the blackness and tap the floor, reach arms out slowly at first, searching the abyss for danger or security. After a while, they would have navigated the space around the chair so well that they would have memorized the rug, the nearby table, the empty space... all the while holding on to the chair. Soon, as they determined that there was no impending danger in the space most directly around the chair, they would probe further. They would step away, just out of reach of the chair, then quickly return to it to reassure and orient themselves.
It wouldn't be long before the space beyond the chair would be well navigated, and, confidence having grown in the person's capacity to forge through the darkness and return to safety, they would begin to embark on a bigger journey. They would decide to see where the safety ends. Knowing they could return to the chair, and that from that point they could determine the position of all obstacles they had thus far encountered, they would push through the void till they finally reached the wall. From there a brief investigation of the wall would be followed by a return to home base, to the chair, the one fixed reference point from whence the location of all else is charted. Then would ensue the systematic investigation of the perimeter of the room, with less and less frequent returns to the chair, the understanding being that the person knows the chair is there if they need it, but now as less of a necessity and more a source of comfort and rest.
Soon, the darkness would dissipate, not pushed away by light, but by understanding. Each return to the chair having reinforced that the next time, it would be there again. Had the chair been moved the first or second or fifth time that the person had gone out exploring, all confidence, trust and security would be dashed. Had the walls somehow shifted, boundaries moved unpredictably, the chair would have become the only reliable safe-place. But from that safe place, instead of the world being a safe, comfortable place, it would be one of fear and uneasiness.
I want to be a chair. I want to be fixed and sturdy and reliable. I want my children to use my constancy to help them navigate the world, and with boundaries firmly in place, for them to feel secure at times when the terrain is unpredictable and the light too dim. I don't want to try to follow them around rescuing them or sheltering them, but for them to know that when they need a soft place to rest, I am here for them and always will be.