To my dearest, sweetest Ben,
What a shock I got when I sat you on my lap today. I have forgotten how it’s like to hold you up and carry you. You’ve grown so much, so quickly.
You don’t sit on my lap anymore during story time. Because everyone else pounces on me, you choose to lean against my side.
I don’t carry you anymore. You’ve gotten too heavy for my arms. You watch me while I babywear your brother and carry your sister. You’re happy just to hold my hands.
Sometimes, you don’t even get to hold my hands. Every day, when we head out to school, I have Nat in the Beco, your school bags over one arm, and a hand clutching Becky tight (we all know how far she can run, even on the road). You’re just contented to hold on to my shorts.
Yesterday, when I had to leave for class, you bravely said bye and gave me a smile. It started to pour and I returned for an umbrella. I found you tearing at a corner. I asked you why you were crying. You replied that you missed me. You hugged me tight like I’m the only one you’ve got in the whole world.
This is you. My little, sentimental, you.
You watch daily as I frenzy around, handling one sometimes unreasonable and temperamental child, and one whiny, clingy baby. You see me getting drained, day after day, by the endless tantrums and screaming, and you offer a kind touch, always. You observe, quietly, as I trudge on, exhausted by your needy little brother who refuses to be away from me and you offer help by distracting him. You wait patiently for Mama; you want her and need her too. She’s got stories to tell you, answers to your questions and lessons to teach you. You hang around her every minute, waiting for that moment she finally has time for you.
You sometimes bear the brunt of her anger and her impatience. And because you’re so mild and gentle, you take it, swallow it, and continue loving her, because Mama is the apple of your eye. You do things to get her attention, and when you mess up, you end up lashed and broken. Mama always expects more from you. So you try everyday, to do things right, to make her happy.
I see all these, my son. I see my many expectations of you. I see how I am answering your questions with ‘I don’t know’ more often now than before. I see how unfair I’ve been, always making you give in to the younger ones.
Today, we took the bus alone – just you and me – and finally explored the upper deck of a double decker! You were delighted, even though it was only for a short while. We had to leave a sick and screaming Becks at home, and I saw in your eyes that you were as drained as I was having to put up with her tantrums and hissy fits before we left the house. If it was you, you’d only sob quietly at a corner, and miss me in your heart.
How different the two of you are.
How blessed I am to have you in my life. Your gentleness is a respite on such days of mothering madness.
How I need to learn to treasure you.
I love you to the moon and back,