His eyes are fighting to stay open. Lids are working hard but surrender. His breathing becoming heavier and heavier. His body remains heavy. His fatty hand lies limp on my shoulder. Nose to nose. He’s wearing his fire-truck jammies tonight.
Bodies facing each other. The only thing that lies between us is his minion… his t-rex… his ninja turtle… his olaf… his silky blankie… his water cup.
The humming of frogs and crickets echo outside his bedroom window.
I find my own eyes fighting to stay open too. Drifting away, but coming back. My songs have gotten slower, less pronounced. Though I find myself to be one of the world’s worst singers, he insists on me singing him songs every night. The batman theme song is at the top of his list these days.
He was up at 6 a.m. today. On a Saturday morning. Ready to go, play, explore. I’m tired, exhausted. Foggy from staying up late studying for my graduate exam coming up shortly. Up with the dogs early. Fifteen hours later, after a busy day of just being a kid, is tuck-in time. The day consisted of monster-hunting, swimming, laughing, playing, crying, fighting, and boo-boos. “Lay wiff me, mommy,” he pleads. His eyes hopeful and tearing up.
How often I’ve turned down this request. To study. To write another countless paper. “Mommy has to do homework.” He tells me “okayyy” with a quivering mouth in disappointment. The nights of being let down add up inside but every time he asks, his hope rises to the same level.
It takes constant effort to minimize my own anxiety, my own worries about crossing off the to-do list, being productive in the limited amounts of time I have for myself. It is doable though. Controllable. To just say no to myself and to be there, be present. Aligning my breathing pattern with his. Trace my fingertips across that big forehead he got from his mom. Admire the innocence, wonderment, pureness of him. Be aware of the love I have for this child of mine. Remind myself this is why everything.
It’s in these moments, not when I am crossing off the unending list that cycles my anxiety, that I know I’m doing something right. While I am there with him. Know I’m doing something to comfort him, inspire him, love him. Let him in, and him let me in. When he’s not hiding under the dining room table yelling, “you’re not my best friend anymore!” in response to me saying we can only play tag one more time (after about 13 rounds) because it’s bedtime.