“I wanna wear my fancy shirt,” he said. It was 8:00 a.m. He should have been dressed. We still needed to eat breakfast, brush teeth, find his shoes and catch the school bus. “Okay,” I said. I went to his closet, and held out the two fancy shirts he’ll wear. One’s a short-sleeved orange polo. The other’s a plaid button-down that he wore for school photos earlier this year. “That one,” he said, pointing to the plaid. It’s almost too small but I don’t care. I think about earlier years and having to show him shirts with the tags cut out because he didn’t believe they were gone.
I think about the year that winter turned to spring and then summer when he refused to graduate from long-sleeved shirts to short-sleeved ones. How he sweated at playgrounds. How people wondered why he was wearing a long-sleeved shirt.
Today was my little boy’s last day of first grade and he wanted to wear a fancy shirt.
I’m not sure I’m ready for him to turn seven in a few weeks or for second grade, come September.
I miss my two-year-old. I miss him needing my warmth to sleep and my hands to open juice boxes. I miss being able to carry him on my hip and the days when his head didn’t yet reach my chin while he sat on my lap.
When my son was two, there was a day when I called my husband at 2:18pm asking when he was coming home. The minutes were like hours and the clock was laughing at me each time I looked at it. My baby wasn’t napping. His angry red face was failure. The minutes felt like hours.
My baby and I were sleeping. I closed my eyes for just a moment and wake to my husband tapping me on the shoulder. “Shhh,” I whisper, and pat the bed, hoping he’ll lie down with us. He does, and we stare at our son. The gratitude and love I feel is like the ocean, slamming into me, receding, and back. Powerful. Greedy. Nourishing.
I close my eyes and I feel the warm, milk-scented comma that was once my son’s baby body curled on my chest. I miss worrying about dropping him. I miss falling asleep in his baby-room rocking chair, my breast heavy over his head. I miss tip-toeing to my own bed, tuned always to the baby monitor.
Today, my last-day-of-first-grade son got off the bus, handed me his backpack, and invited two friends over to play. “Of course,” I said. They pounded the stairs and jumped on unmade beds and I wondered whether his friends’ parents made their beds each day.
I’m often no longer a worthy playmate when it comes to Nerf sword fighting or making underarm fart-sounds. His friends come and bound up and down the stairs, throwing, snacking, talking about which powers they have as villains and heroes.
“Thank you that he has friends,” I whisper. Minutes later, “Let’s tone it down!” I yell. We go to the playground, and I snap a blurry photo of three boys running. “Stop before the street!” I holler after them.
I think about the days before my son was here and of lying awake at night, too uncomfortable to sleep. Tired. I close my eyes and remember talking to him in the dark. Promising him that no matter who he was when he came out that I’d love him more than there are grains of sand in the deserts and more than there are drops of water in all of the oceans, rivers, and lakes in all of the world.
I close my eyes for a moment and wake to a nurse tapping me on the shoulder. “M’am?” she says. “Oh! I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to…” I trail off because I see a man coming down the hall holding a baby. He’s so tall, I think. So handsome. He’s got light brown shaggy hair and blue-green eyes. A silly little grin that reminds me of when he was a boy who didn’t speak. I flash back to that boy who pushed my face away when I told him he was my favorite person in all of the world. I blink, and see him walking down the hall. The nurse stands, hands me my oxygen bracelet, and smiles.
“Mom,” he says, “Meet your grandson.” He passes the bundle that reminds me of a comma and I smell my grandson’s head.
I close my eyes. I see yesterday, tomorrow, and hope that I’ll hold a grandbaby one day. That I’ll see my now almost-seven-year-old walking down a hallway toward me, holding his baby.
This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. This week’s sentence is “When I close my eyes, I see…” AWESOME PROMPT right? Your hosts:
As always, me from Finding Ninee
and this week’s sentence thinker-upper, Kerry Kijewski of Her Headache.