This morning, I woke up to my son snuggling into me.
I moved around and, despite my best efforts, roused him from a dream.
He looked up at me and he smiled. It was early, the sun not yet commanding the sky, and I told him to go back to sleep.
“Can I be your little cub?” he asked, groggily, as he curled up into my nook. “I want to be your little spoon.”
He has been very into spooning with me lately. Earlier this week, he was the big spoon, his arm stretched across me, pulling me close.
“Do you like when I cuddle you?” he’d asked. “I wanted to be your big spoon, mommy.
Because you are my happy place.”
People talk about the bond between mothers and their sons; how sons love their moms and worship them and there is a unique closeness and, for a long time, this all sounded wonderful to me but I did not experience it. For the first couple of years of Beau’s life, I wasn’t his preferred spoon (little or big). When he fell down and needed a swift boo-boo kiss he would run to Kenny or cry for my mom.
He loved me, and I loved him, but the closeness didn’t come as naturally to us. Belle, on the other hand, had not wanted to give up breastfeeding when I eventually weaned her at 18 months, so, needless to say, an effortless bond with my child was all I had known.
Last year, something shifted. Life took some unexpected turns (even before the pandemic!) and Beau and I were suddenly together A LOT. In fact, we spent most of our days together, falling into easy routines. I created LEGO games for him and he sat with me at LaBelle every week for my manicure. But, more than jut the logistical closeness, I started to become his person; the one to whom he’d run when he needed the extra kiss or expression of love. Do I think that our bond was harder to build because I was suffering from severe postpartum depression for the first year of his life? In my darker moments, yes. But, not because he was mad at or resentful of me. I think I put up my own walls, incapable of trusting myself to be the mom he deserved. This is hard to reconcile. That’s ok. We found our way.
This morning, after we untangled from one another, Beau scampered to his room to build LEGO characters. Kenny and I got to talking and, long story short, I challenged him to “give me the most random word” he could think of, as I’d put it in the search term of this here blog and see if there would be any hits.
After a moment of thinking, he came up with his word: Croissant.
“I’m not so sure there I’ve ever posted the word croissant on here, but I’ll try!”
Well, wouldn’t you know, there were FOUR hits!
I chose to read this post, which was written six years ago next month.
It explains so much of what I’d been feeling, then, and so much of what I explained above.
But, more than that, it shows how all things are fluid, evolving, ephemeral and mercurial.
I’d been resigned to the fact that my bond with Beau would just simply be different than my bond with Belle.
I was right, but not in the ways I’d imagined.
While different, the bonds are equal in depth and comfort.
While Belle still loves me, she’s growing up, and wouldn’t dare ask me to spoon her while referring to me as her “happy place.”
She is WAY too cool for that.
And so, today was a good reminder of where we’ve been, where we are, and just how far we’ve come.
We aren’t doing things like we did before. We are doing things better.
Like communicating; snuggling; spooning.
We belong to each other. He is my spoon and I am his.
My relationship with my son is an extremely complex one. It is so easy for me to write about my daughter (my mini-me); in fact, I have literally hundreds of posts from which to choose, that would each somehow illustrate her character or our bond. I was just searching for the post in which I wrote about finding out that I was having a boy, and accidentally came upon this, so you can use this one post, written not so long ago, as an example of my daughter and my love for her.
My love for my son is no less fierce or intense. But yes, it is different. Part of this is clearly because of their 3.5 year age gap. For example, communication: My daughter has a stunning vocabulary for her age and a wisdom that is hard to put into words. My son is just learning to speak. It is easier for me to relate to my daughter in many ways, because she can tell me how she is feeling and what she wants and she will sit down with me, whereas my son uses non-verbal communication, his dozen words and a lot of running.
But, as I said, my love for him is unquantifiable. Just this morning the four of us were up early and all cuddled on the couch in the basement, listening to my son’s new favorite song (and let me tell you, he makes it known) and I kind of nuzzled up to his head and inhaled him, like people do with newborn babies. He smells delicious. I can’t describe it, but I got so lost in that smell, I could have stayed there forever.
But if we are being really, truly honest, which I always am, I think that the part of my relationship that mixes me up a bit is the fact that he was born and I subsequently lost my mind. So my feelings about our introduction are a combination of bliss, gratitude, joy, terror, sadness, pain, guilt and some PTSD. Once my mental health started to improve and I was left alone, again, to take care of my son, I thought, “How am I going to do this? How will we work?”
My little guy has surprised me from day 1 of his existence in my womb, and hasn’t stopped. He cracks me up, for in the span of 3 minutes, he will steal my kale smoothie, switch the Living Room TV to a setting that I can’t figure out how to fix, take apart my bathroom vanity, while marching around, bag of pretzels in one hand and blowdryer in the other. (This is what he did after lunch today.) He just tried to race his Matchbox cars over my computer keyboard. He is just different than I am. I am lazy. I like to play chill games. He likes to go go go go go go go go go go.
But something hit me today, as I got dressed, and I was inspired to journal it, as he deserves it. I wanted to write about him. My closet happens to be in my son’s bedroom, so as I picked out my outfit, I sat him on his glider and talked to him. “I’m just putting on my shirt now! What do you think?” And I smiled at him as broadly as I could and he smiled back, with his entire face. I ran to the bathroom that is across the hall from his bedroom and waved to him. He continued to beam.
“We are doing this,” I thought.
This, this period of time right now, is an odd one; This is not what I expected from my life, and I feel the entire spectrum of emotions when I think about it, ranging from extreme sadness to pure happiness. This morning, on that couch, my head in his hair, I was as blissful as anyone could be.
And then there are other times, when I am trying to figure out my path forward, and I get down.
But I realized today that I have this constant reminder with me; My little strength symbol.
I want to be happy, not just for myself (in fact, I put myself last, but that’s a whole different story), but for him.
So right now I am sitting on the floor of the basement, perched on his “Anywhere Chair”, typing, as he runs around, playing trains, sliding down the rollercoaster, handing me a plastic croissant and saying, “Apple, mama?” as he shoves it into my mouth, climbing on the furniture and continuing to mess with yet another TV. I am now listening to the sound of my home phone dialing.
But we’re doing this.
And even though I just had to get up from my chair on the floor (despite my inherent laziness) to hang up the phone because he actually did just call someone, we are doing this.
And so I am going to go now. Not just because he is dialing more numbers, but because I want to give him my time. I want to play with him, cooking together in his fake grill. I want to help him to do a puzzle. I want to smell his head.
So, it may not have been the easiest path,
and every single day still has it’s challenges,
but I get to smell a heavenly head, and see a huge smile that has all but 2 teeth filled in, and laugh at the little drop of milk that gets caught in the cleft of his chin and live in a constant state of surprise and amazement and awe.
And I get to continue to learn, from my baby, how to be strong.
(Our respective perches. At least for this second.)
“What’s up?” I asked.
“Nothing. You called me? I got a missed call from your home phone.”
My son freakin’ called my mom.
“His first call to Bubbie!” she exclaimed, so excited.
“He is delicious.”
And I have to agree.