When he was born, the only thing that would stop him crying was for me to hold him in my arms. For months and months, we were together like a kangaroo and its Joey. Every day, all day, as long as I was holding him, I was greeted with those sweet dimples that I said were “mine, all mine”.
Even as he started to grow and didn’t need me to hold him anymore, he still wanted me to.
He walked at 10 months old, but wanted me to carry him even when he was 4. “Carry me, Mama!” he’d say and, because I knew there would be a day when he wouldn’t want me to anymore, or that he would be too big, I’d carry him whenever I could. I’d hold him close, inhale his beautiful boy smell and cherish those moments.
I knew the days of clutching my leg and wanting me over anyone would wane, but I wasn’t prepared for how soon it happened. I thought maybe when he was in junior high loving-on-your-Mom wouldn’t be cool anymore…but 8? That caught me off guard. This is what I wanted…my precious boy wanting to be as close to his Mom as he could…my precious boy who would look at me every day and say “We’ll be best friends forever Mama.”
He used to love cuddling up to me or having me hold him for a picture. “Take one of us, Mama!” was quickly followed with a “Can I see us?” I savored every moment, knowing that they would soon be few and far between.
And then suddenly, just as though a switch had been flipped, he wanted nothing to do with me anymore. No more kisses (only if I begged), very few hugs, no more “best friends forever” and a quick, clipped “love you too” only at bedtime. Where did my baby go? Would he ever come back? It seemed at times impossible to even coax a small smile out of him.
And I mourned. And still mourn. Because it’s different now. There are days when I cry at night because I don’t think he loves me anymore…and he for sure doesn’t like me. I cry on Matt’s shoulder wondering what I did wrong that made him stop wanting me. “Why?” I cry…”Why?” Matt assures me that it’s a boy thing; boys constantly strive for their independence and push their mothers away. It’s just the way it is. “You have to find other ways, more subtle ways, that he’s showing you he still loves you. And don’t act like his snubs upset you, that will only make it worse.” So I pretend. I pretend it doesn’t bother me that I don’t get a goodbye kiss and hug before school. I pretend that it’s ok that he doesn’t want me to lay with him and read to him and scratch his back before bed. I pretend, I pretend, I pretend. But I’m always looking for those subtle ways that he’s showing me he loves me.
Like when I’m the first one he chooses to show his new Lego creation to.
Or the one he chooses to show the author letter he received at school.
Or the little glance and smirk I get when he sees me in the back of the room at Heritage Day.
Or the jokes we share at the dinner table.
Or this. I was getting into bed the other night, after a particularly rough “there’s-no-way-he-still-loves-me” day and I found this on top of my pillow. Not on the bed, not anywhere near Matt’s side, right on top of MY pillow. Just for me.
And in that moment, all I feel are his arms around me, his sweet kisses on my neck, his dimples showing at me as he grins, his little voice saying “We’ll be best friends forever Mama” and know that I am still very, very loved.
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