Posted on | February 6, 2012 | 5 Comments
Last night, while half the world watched Madonna rock out the halftime show, I was tucking a small boy into bed. For the first time since the divorce, he walked past my room and into his own, crawling up into his own bed with no prodding from me.
“You lay down, too?” he asked, from his cozy spot on the Lightening McQueen pillow. I politely declined, telling him that I had a few things to do before I went to bed. We read a story and I kissed him goodnight, silently wondering just how long he would actually stay in his bed.
Twenty minutes later, he was sound asleep. In his own room. Tucked into his own bed. Without me.
I peeked in on him several times, watching the rise and fall of his breathing like I had when he was just an infant in that same room. Finally, I turned off the light and plugged in a night light and tip toed out, leaving the door open wide.
And then I crawled into my own bed, alone, with no pint-sized cover hog or pillow stealer. There was no 30 some pound heat seeker pressed up against my arm or leg or face and there were no tiny toes digging under my side. I left the door open, waiting for the call of “mommy!” that didn’t seem to be coming.
I couldn’t sleep.
Even from my bed, in my separate room, I could hear each breath that he took. This must be a mother thing…. to be able to hear the breathing of your child across county lines? I tossed and turned, wondering if he was too cold or too hot. I sighed and counted sheep and tossed and turned some more, ultimately realizing what was keeping me so wide awake.
My baby is growing up.
While he was safely tucked under the covers of my bed, safely next to me, I could protect him. I could watch for monsters under the bed or coughs that needed medicine. I could breathe in the soft, baby curls atop his head and I could know that he was safe and sound… and mine. And now, he was just in the next room over and even that seemed so far. One day, he’d be across town, or across the state… or across the country. I wondered if I’d hear him breathing then.
He will not always be so singularly mine as he is now. He will grow and change and make choices… some that I agree with and some that I don’t. He will grow up and away from the safety of my arms. And he’s supposed to… I’m supposed to help him do that. I just didn’t realize that we were moving so quickly toward that day. I didn’t realize time was whirling him so quickly from my arms.
And then just as I started to fall asleep, I heard him. A soft call, a tiny cry; one small, echoing question: Mommy?
I was up in a flash, to his bedside where he reached his arms up and despite a bad back and a half-asleep mind, he wound up in my arms, clutching little hands across my neck and cuddling a soft head against my shoulder. I carried him softly back to my room, letting him snuggle up next to me for the last few hours before sunrise.
I was being silly. I was being foolish.
He will grow and change and move. But I will always be his mommy. And all it will ever take is one cry for me to find him and wrap him in my arms again. Maybe not always this way; maybe not always close beside me with the sweet, soft suck of a pacifier… but always. Someway. Somehow.
Forever my little boy.