A fever kept you home from school today. It left your body exhausted, unable to do little more than burrow under the blankets I layered on top of you. You had the chills and required constant temperature checks and doses of Tylenol.
But that fever also meant you were with me all day. It meant my day full of errands shifted into focus entirely on you. It meant you fell asleep with your head resting on my chest just like you did when I rocked you to sleep all those years ago. When was the last time that happened? Did I blink and miss it?
I listened to you breathe in and out and I said a prayer of gratitude for each breath. I studied your face committing it all to a place in my heart that holds memories too precious to be held anywhere else. Because tomorrow comes and today’s opportunity will be gone. And today I was reminded that in a blink of an eye everything can change.
Once upon a time in a suburb not so far away, there was a mom. She was a new mom, an overly anxious mom who wanted so desperately to be doing the rightthings, making the rightchoices for her brand new baby boy. She had ingested enough online mommy forums to know she was destined to fail her child spectacularly. And unfortunately, her second child had not come along yet to teach her about zero f*cks.
So that mom who spent most of her childhood sprawled on the floor of the Hansen public library did what she knew best. She read to her son.
She read while rolling her eyes during “Good Night Moon” because who says goodnight to a spoon and god damn it she was tired.
She read while sobbing through “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always” because why doesn’t that book come with tissues and oh my god, you mean my son one day is going to leave me and I’m going to die????
She read while the books changed to “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” and “Dogman” and she read while thinking that she didn’t remember him being so big yesterday.
And now that baby boy isn’t so young anymore. She’ll see him quietly reading in the sunlight at her breakfast table. He’ll be reading alone, no longer needing her for every word on every page comfortable and confident doing it on his own. Wasn’t that her goal? Should it feel so bittersweet? She’ll realize in that quiet moment she isn’t a perfect mom, but that she’s doing just fine with that baby boy of hers.
My fingers were frozen as I pushed you on the swing for the hundredth time that day. My chants of “legs out, legs in” fell on deaf ears as you were completely content letting me handle all the work of keeping you airborne never failing to remind me to push harder if I had let you become too slow or swing too low.
At the peak of each swing, I had noticed you were stretching your legs out so far that I thought you might fall off. “What are you doing up there?” I called. “Trying to touch the clouds,” you said. “Just a little higher, mom, I’m almost there.”
We stayed at the park that day long after when we normally would have gone in because of the cold. Because one day you won’t need me or perhaps even sooner you won’t want my help. But for today, you did. And for as long as you’ll let me, I’ll be the one who helps you kick the clouds.