We listened to a sleep meditation recording as he fell asleep last night, hanging on to me like driftwood. As the faintest snores began to come out of him, I kissed his hair and tried to retract my arm. He grabbed it and kissed me on the wrist.
He always wants us to be even on kisses these days. If I happen to shortchange him, he’ll yank on my arm, reach his hand toward my face and say “I need three smooches.”
A few nights ago, he walked on my back when I was achy, patting my hair when he was done, asking “is that better?”
I hugged him close and told him yes.
“You take such good care of your mom,” I told him. “Do you ever feel like you’re always taking care of me? Or do you feel like I take care of you?”
He snuggled into me, stuck out one arm and pointed his finger at my shoulder, bouncing it there repeatedly.
“You take care of me,” he whispered.
I was overwhelmed with relief. I just lost a friend who helped keep me steady over the past year and half. I know I have days when I feel awfully alone and uncertain right now. I work hard to take care of myself so I don’t get lost in those feelings. And my son feels loved and safe and taken care of. By me. What more could I ask for?
This morning I took him to the first day of first grade. We walked in to a quiet room with a big circle of children already cross-legged on the floor. He tiptoed in, put a card with his name onto it into the attendance basket, hung up his backpack and sat down with the group, looking around excitedly.
I stood in another part of the room with a couple of other parents who were snapping photographs and taking deep breaths. The joy on my boy’s face threatened to crack him wide open. He was so engaged in the newness of everything – the faces, the classroom, the whole, fresh ritual – that he didn’t see me wave and blow him a kiss goodbye.
My heart tightened a little, then let go with relief as I slipped into the hallway. He wasn’t afraid to be on his own. He wasn’t afraid to leave me on my own either.
And I know he’ll even up the smooch count before the day is through.