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Bedtime with my Oldest Son…
“Momma, will you lay with me?”
The fact that my son still calls me “momma” is lost on me sometimes at 9:30 at night, when the laundry is undone and the dishes not yet put away.
“Please?” he pleads. He can tell I am put off by the idea of laying down with him to silently give up all motivation I have left for the day. Making accomplishing anything domestic after he’s finally fallen asleep extremely difficult if not impossible.
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“Only for a couple of minutes.” I relinquish my hold on my responsibilities and carefully tuck myself onto the left side of his twin bed. He cuddles up into my chest, calmed by my presence, and the smell of his hair takes me down memory lane.
He was once an infant, so tiny and small and his head on my chest smelled like baby powder and diaper cream. Then he was two, and it smelled like Johnson’s Baby shampoo. Then he turned five, and its scent became dirt and grass stains. Now, at nine years old it feels like a new memory. My mind creating a new memory in between dirt and a baseball field. Maybe last night’s shampoo or hair gel from this morning.
In the morning I will push for his independence. Applaud him for doing things like pouring his cereal, getting dressed and doing his hairstyle. But at this moment I am reminded how close I am to the end of these days.
The days of “momma lay with me…” they’re drawing to a close I’m afraid.
As a mother, we all know they someday end, but it’s such a gradual process we don’t always have time to be grateful for them while they are here. I kiss his forehead and tell him how proud he makes me. I ask if he knows what that means?
“Well, I know what proud means but I don’t know what you mean when you say it.”
“It means, when I think of you and how kind you are, and brave, smart, and wonderful…my heart leaps.”
“Oh.” He responds, still not entirely understanding my melodramatic mommy-mood. He burrows deeper into my chest and starts to breathe heavily embracing sleep.
I can’t hold you forever even though I wish I could. I will be the first to admit I have a somewhat loose grip on you currently, ready for you to embrace your leadership and responsibility. The more you show me you’re capable of responsible tasks, the looser my grip becomes. (Read about What Happens When We Parent Imperfectly)
You are so much like your daddy.
I see him in you, all the time. When you make a silly joke for your friends, and when you work so very hard to fix something that broke. I see him in you when you are inventing things, oh how you are always inventing. (Struggling to CoParent? Watch my Video of 5 Tips To Coparent with a Toxic Ex)
I see me, too.
I see me when you want to lead the pack, and I see me when you want to please your friends. I see me when you are hurting and scared. I see me in your eyes, and your nose and your hair. Your cowlick and your freckles, those are your daddy.
My dear 9-year-old,
I am so not ready to let go of the “mommy, please lay with me…” days to give way to the teenage angst that is coming my way.
So remind me. Remind me even when the laundry calls and the house is a stray. Remind me, day by day, by day.
That our time shared will not always be this way.
Ask me now, and ask me again even after I’m frustrated and overwhelmed and upset.
Even after I’ve lectured about how I have deadlines and I need sleep of my own. Excuse my excuses to stay away. Rants of how I’ll end up asleep in your bed and my back will ache, they aren’t actually important.
My sweet boy,
open that door for me that you do when I tuck you into bed. The one where you tell me all your secrets about your day. The ones you hid away when I asked after school “What did you do today?” It pains me to hear about someone leaving you out on the playground, but I feel humbled and proud when you tell me how you handled your frenemy. Tell me all the things you need to say right now, reminding me that you’re still a boy. A 9-year-old boy who is independent and ready to lead, also wants his momma to comfort him to sleep. (Read How We Combat My Son’s ADHD without Medication Here!)
A day is coming when you will stop asking.
I may not even notice until it’s passed. It’s the bittersweet journey of parenthood.
“And then there is the most dangerous risk of all — the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.”- Randy Komisar
I don’t want to look back and wish I had taken you up on your offer more often. I don’t want to look back and feel like I missed all the baseball games, or drum lessons to work in a career that is destined for me anyways.
Deep down I know work will always be there.
It’s still there; it’s like an old friend. I imagine you reminding me: “Guess what else will always be there Momma?”
Laundry, Dishes, sweeping, bills… (Read An Open Letter to the Broke Single Mother I once Was)
I’m a human being, and sometimes that means I am selfish.
Selfish with my time, and my body. Humans are made this way. I am also forgetful, and often in a hurry. Both literally and philosophically. It seems I prefer to rush into the next phase of my life’s journey before I’ve completed the present. I rush you, as well.
Unfortunately, you will be this way too.
My only hope for you is that regardless of all my shortcomings, you remember that for many years I tucked you into bed and let you fall asleep on my chest. I, although late often, attempted to attend every sporting event and music concert. Not because I want recognition, because I want you to know how much you mean to me. I want you to one day, have a little boy and understand that doing those things was a show of how proud you make me.
You don’t understand those words now, but you will. Your son will make you proud too.
If I forget, when you are older, to thank you;
For pulling me in and not being afraid to be close to me even when I am a frustrated and a stressed-out mother. For stealing the small moments of my free time, I don’t want to give up for 5 minutes of cuddle time. Thank you. One day, you won’t offer these anymore, and I will have so many memories of them to look back on all because you INSISTED.
to strive to remain grateful for all these moments until the day comes when they end.
when as a human mother, I inevitably break that promise a few more times.