The first two nights of your life were in the hospital. I didn’t set you in that clear tub, except when I had to pee. I wanted you nuzzled in my arms, even to sleep. I worried the nurses would disapprove, but they never said a word.
The months that followed were no different. We napped off and on all day with our noses touching. You nursed for eons, and I read books behind your head, only after thoroughly staring in awe at your marshmallow cheeks and your heavenly lashes. We were happily attached, both literally and figuratively.
As time went on, I started craving a little space. Of course cuddling you filled me with the warmest and fuzziest feelings, but I also started feeling pulled toward the dishes spewing over the sink and the hairballs that rolled through our home like tumbleweeds.
Caring for you gave me the greatest sense of importance I’ve ever known, but I also wanted breaks from being so responsible, on call, and needed. Times came when I wanted you off my lap to get things done, to chat with friends, or to use a forgotten part of my brain.
When I became pregnant again, I cuddled you with the intention I had in the beginning. I gave you all-day airplane rides on my legs, and held you in front of my face while we walked and talked. We went on frequent dates and shared many slices of pizza and plenty of fro yo. I chased you around the house, played with you in the bath, and held your hand while we drove. I was scared I wouldn’t be able to do these things once the new guy was born.
Once he arrived, my lap was often occupied. I tried to read you books while he nursed, but you were disinterested. I tried to take you out for hot dogs and beach trips, and sometimes the one-on-one time was just what we needed. But other days, our outings would end with tantrums and battles, regardless of how special I tried to make them.
In the year that followed, you both wanted to sit on my lap while we ate dinner, so you often did. But we didn’t fit as well as we used to. There was always an elbow jabbing someone’s chest, or broccoli bits falling on someone’s head, or a brother who simply didn’t want to share his mama.
Now that your brother is older, he’s not in my lap as often as he used to be, so I try to call you over. I invite you to sit and snuggle on me, but you’re busy these days with your own thoughts and projects. Trust me, I get it, and I know the feeling. But sometimes I just want to lay around with you like we used to when it was just the two of us, sharing simple moments of cuddles and play.
You would sit on my face and say the cutest things that turned my heart upside down. We would hide under the blankets and pretend we were in a tent, and it never felt like the day was going to slip away. We had nowhere to go, and nothing to do, except be together.
Now when we attempt this, you pounce on me too hard. It’s not your fault, you’re just bigger. You play too rough because you’re a full-on boy and wired that way. Other times, you’re just not as comfortable on my lap as you used to be. You’re older now. You want your own space.
A few weeks ago, you were having a bad day. For the first time in a long while you said, “Mama, I want you to hold me.” There was a time those words would have exhausted me, but because I don’t hear them anymore, my heart fell to the floor. I felt honored and excited.
I dropped everything and scooped you into my arms. Your brother wasn’t happy, so I took you into the bedroom so we could lay together. Being with you in that moment was the most important thing in the world. After snuggling and talking for a few minutes, you said, “I feel better now, Mommy. Thank you.” And just like that, my heart was full.
Today you are five, and although we’re still together every day and every night, I miss you. I miss you on my lap and in my arms. But I respect where you are now. When I was pregnant with you I daydreamed about what your voice would sound like, and what your run would look like. I’m so happy to finally know and love both.
I used to think I was incredible for making you, but I know that’s taking far too much credit. You are uniquely you, a gift from the Divine. I love who you are, and I enjoy watching you grow, but as you do, I miss you, too.
There was a time it felt like you were mine. For nine months, I cocooned you in my womb. For years that followed, I wrapped you in my arms, and although they’re still yours for comfort and protection, you don’t need them as much. Now, I don’t only sniff you like a picked flower, I listen to you tell stories and share your ideas. I watch you make potions out of butter and sugar, and leaves and water. You collect Daddy’s tools in your own box, and paint pictures until we run out of paper. I listen to your questions, and admire your friendly and sensitive nature, and it’s all becoming clear that you aren’t mine, but your own.
It used to seem as though you were this huge part of my journey, but now I see that you have a journey of your own unfolding. You have so many decisions, changes, problems, solutions, and excitements ahead of you. Of course you won’t be holding my hand for all of it, and you shouldn’t. This life is yours, and I’m honored to be a part of it.
But just so you know, if you want to hold my hand, you can.