Lately I’ve been working on looking at my kids. Really looking at them. Noticing how insanely, intoxicatingly blue J. Bug’s eyes are. Allowing myself to revel in the adorable dimples C. Bear can’t help but show off when he smiles. Watching them as they process things, interact, and form who they are.
The other night as I was tucking J. Bug into bed he whispered, “Mommy, you stay in bed wif me?”
That’s not the first time he’s asked, and I usually tell him I can’t but that I love him very much and will see him in the morning. That night I thought, “what the heck,” and climbed into his toddler bed with him. Bug laid on his stomach and I laid on my side, we were facing each other, both with our eyes closed. I put my hand on Bug’s back and felt his back rise and fall with each breath.
I marveled that God created those lungs and that ability to breath while this 27 lb. pre-schooler was just a tiny being inside of me.
Bug’s cold feet were resting on my leg, and I could feel the outline of his little toes on my calf. We have the same feet – he and I. It’s astounding to look at someone and see bits of yourself in them, to know that they are part of you. And you are part of them. Intrinsically.
I know this is weird, but in my quest to really be present when I’m with my boys, I’ve realized that I like the smell of their breath. As I lay next to Bug and he breathed in and out, calmly and slowly, I could smell his breath. Sometimes Bug’s breath smells suspiciously of peanut butter and crackers, but most of the time it just smells like…him. His essence, his beauty, his self.
As I’m writing this, Bear is playing at my feet next to me. He’s finding letters from our refrigerator and bringing them over to show me. He’s not playing any differently than if he were playing in the living room, and he’s not playing in the kitchen at my feet because he likes being on the hardwoods or because the lighting is better for looking at letters. No, he’s playing here because he wants to be near me.
Of all my accomplishments in life, I think perhaps the most important one is that my kids feel safe with me. They long to be near me, to be close to me, and I give them comfort, peace, and contentment. There are many things in motherhood that I’ve done wrong, and even more things in general life that I’ve messed up. But I’m proud to say my kids feel safe with me. When they fall and scrape their chin, when they do something new and want to be praised, when a friend says something mean, when they are brave, when they are scared, when they are rebellious, when they are obedient…
they are safe. No. Matter. What. I will love them, and I will let them know that they are valued. I know someday they won’t want to play at my feet, and I will no longer be the sense of safety they need on a daily basis. So I’m treasuring those tearful cuddles, those giggles from inside jokes, and those random strings of thoughts about things that are very, very important in their world.
I’m treasuring those boys with all their intricacies and idiosyncracies, because I happen to be something very important in their worlds right now.I happen to be their mother.