It was only fitting that in the small hours just after the closing bell on Mother’s Day 2012, I found myself doing one of the most motherly things imaginable. I sat crammed on a loveseat with a sick five year old on my lap, trying to hold him just upright enough to keep his cough at bay but allow him to sleep. Whether or not I got any sleep was unimportant, which is a handy factoid because I didn’t. Initially there was a bit of twisting and turning, a settling in to the novelty of being out of bed at a forbidden time, a casual suggestion that we watch Scooby Doo. The one thing there wasn’t was more coughing, and sometimes that’s enough to ease a parent’s searing leg cramp and stabbing neck pain. Then he said it, and my heart became as toasty and gooey as a marshmallow over a summer campfire:
“It’s okay that you interrupted my sleep.”
In that instant, I knew we’d done at least a few things right. Was he just born so magnanimous? I don’t think so. And I have to say, even though my eyes feel like they’ve been scrubbed with Comet and I swear the two cups of coffee I had this morning actually laughed at me, he’s inspired me to do the same. I love you so much my sweet boy, it’s okay.
It’s okay that you used my bladder as a trampoline for the better part of 40 weeks. I know now that I would be way less clever if I’d never had to figure out how to handle it when I peed my pants in public. It was your remarkable ability to use all of your body and maximize small spaces that helped me learn how to find the sweet spot between ignoring and explaining. I think I could totally pull of an infomercial now.
It’s okay that the lady in the grocery store with the cute little blonde bob has seen so many of your meltdowns that she automatically greets me with a sympathetic head tilt and looks like she might go in for a hug. I’ve never been one to turn down a thought hug, and having this relationship with her does have its benefits. On the rare occasion when I bring in a coupon, I’m pretty sure she illegally doubles that noise. By my calculations, each of your freakouts has saved us 55 cents.
It’s okay that my car looks and smells like a preschool dumpster. I think the Cheerio/Lego combination points to a certain joie de vivre not found in cars where guest passengers can just come in and sit down without staining something. How boring their pants must be.
It’s okay that you screamed a request for “I’m Sexy and I Know It” at an Elizabeth Mitchell concert. I’ve thought for some time now that she really needs to sing less about birds and more about tanning her cheeks at the beach. Don’t think I won’t be asking for royalties on your behalf when she releases her new album, Wiggle Wiggle (Put A Bird On It).
It’s okay that you decided to eat an unidentified mushroom on the playground a couple of weeks ago. Trying to get you to drink that big cup of charcoal and Hershey’s syrup in the emergency room right after made getting you to eat your dinner look easy. It’s almost like you knew that having multiple conversations with the Poison Control Center was on your dad’s Bucket List, and the only thing that topped it, awesome-wise, was the way you asked if we could have mushrooms for dinner that night.
I’m not sure how I got so lucky, but I ended up with two of the best kids who ever landed in this crazy place. Sure, they smell funny, break something almost constantly, and cost more than all of the vacations they make me want to take. In spite of all that, I wouldn’t trade them for a suitcase full of unbroken things and weeks of tanning my cheeks on the beach.
It’s okay. Really.