Thump. Thump. Thump.
I’m standing in the kitchen when I hear the familiar sound of my toddler trying to maneuver the childproof knob that we’ve place on the inside of his door. I walk down the hallway quietly so as to not wake my older son and open his door carefully to find him standing there in front of his door. I kneel and ask, “What is it? What’s wrong?” And he replies simply with, “I need my mama.”
I pick him up and walk with him back to his bed whispering to him that it’s “night night time” but that I’ll stay with him a little while. I sit on the edge of his toddler bed, crowded between at least half a dozen stuffed puppies that he insists on sleeping with every night. I hold his one hand as his other hand stays close to his face, a classic thumb sucker.
As a stay at home mom, I value my evening hours after my two boys are in bed. Those are MY hours to be a person free from my little shadows. I watch TV. I write. I read. I let my brain run full thoughts uninterrupted by requests for snacks or drinks or a toy that only I can reach. There are no arguments. No tears. No diaper changes. It’s my me time. And as I sit on my youngest’s bed in the dark my first thoughts admittedly go to how much of my “me time” is being eaten up in this pitch dark room full of puppies and fisher price.
His breathing starts to slow and the circles he has been running over my hand with his fingers cease. I begin to stand, hoping to make my escape. He sits up quickly, aware immediately that my plan is to leave.”But I need my Mama.” His plea is so gentle. I know I have no choice but to entertain it. Resigned, I tell him that I will lay with him for a few minutes. He scoots over to make room by his face and I shift my weight to the side, my legs laying comically off the side of his little bitty bed which fits him and his plethora of stuffed animals just fine but was clearly not made with slumber parties in mind. We lay there, nose to nose. I listen to his breathing again. I can hear it slowing quickly in the comfort of my presence. His chubby fingers find my cheek and they caress my face, stopping every so often to squish my nose. Minute after minute passes and I sense his body weight shifting as he falls closer towards sleep. Every so often his hand jerks back to find my face. He touches me to ensure I’m still there and then drifts again. I’m all he needs.
I’m wearing sweat pants and a tee shirt. My face is makeup free. My hair is in the messiest of buns. Thanks to my eldest having a bout with a stomach virus all day I have not showered. Yet it doesn’t matter. He doesn’t care that my skin is blotchy or that my clothes don’t match. He’s not looking at the pooch in my belly or the lines on my face. He doesn’t care that I have broken my promise to myself to start working out again every morning for the last 3 weeks or that I left cartoons on all day as I catered to his brother. He doesn’t care that we didn’t go to the park or read any books or do any crafts. He only cares that I am here, in his room, with my face on his pillow and my cheek in his hand. All of those markers that I place on myself to determine how I feel about myself on a day to day basis are figments of my imagination. In those few precious minutes that I had fought against having, I had a moment to reflect on how as I’m lying face to face with one of my greatest joys in life, I am simply enough.