Bedtime

I’ve been filling the role of ‘honorary auntie’ for my best friend’s children since before they were born. I remember when her oldest was younger, every time I babysat and put him to bed, I would burst into tears. When you love someone that much, I guess it has to go somewhere.

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RemembeRED

This week we would like you to write about how the show of affection has played a part in your memory.
Choose a time when either the abundance or lack of affection (either by you or someone else) stands out, and show us.  Bring us to that time.  Help us feel what you felt.

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Bedtime

Tonight, I gave him a hug before he ran up the stairs for his bath with daddy.

“Night, Monkey,” I said, and kissed his forehead. “I love you,” I whispered, burying my nose in the sweet spot between his shoulder and his neck.

 Then he was gone — a superhero, an astronaut, a boy whose imagination astounds me. A boy who is outgrowing my lap quicker than my mind or heart can comprehend.

This is bedtime now. It’s different, full of bittersweet memories.

I’m sure that, just yesterday, we read Goodnight Moon on the couch downstairs. I knew it by heart, because he demanded it at least six times a day.

“Where’s the moon?” I asked, and he pointed with a chubby, drool-covered finger.

In the bath, the purple octopus and the squid chased each other around the tub. Giggles filled the room as I sculpted his hair into a soapy mohawk and tickled his belly button, and when the last of the water circled the drain, leaving only a few tiny bubbles behind, I gathered him up in a towel. We played peekaboo with his pajamas.

Just yesterday, I wrapped him in my arms and carried him to his bedroom — the damp weight of him warm against me, his legs dangling and his wet hair leaving a spot on my shirt where his head rested on my shoulder. He yawned.

“Such a sleepy boy,” I said. “What a big yawn.”

In his room there was only darkness and the smell of baby shampoo. We curled together on the chair beside his bed. My chin rested on his head as I inhaled him, and we rocked. I closed my eyes and sang soft hymns that took me back to my own childhood, listening to my parents practice for church after I had gone to bed.

“I will always love you,” I whispered. “I will always be here. I will keep you safe. I promise.”

I sang and rocked, not sure which of us clung more tightly to the other and it wasn’t long before my tears came, running down my face and dripping onto his head.

I cried because I loved him. Because already, he grew heavier in my arms each day. Because soon, I knew that snuggles before bedtime and singing hymns would just be a memory.

I cried because he was my best friend’s child, and my only claim to him was that I loved him more than I ever knew was possible. Because no matter how many times I read Goodnight Moon, he would not be mine.

Just yesterday, I laid him in his bed and placed a stuffed penguin in his arms, kissing him and letting my hand linger for just a moment longer on his cheek. I turned on his music and snuck out the door, wiping my cheeks and hurrying downstairs to plug in the baby monitor — part of my promise.

If he woke, I would be there to chase away the monsters.

Tonight, when he went to bed, I didn’t cry. After books and hugs and kisses, I smiled and watched him go. He is mine. My Monkey. My superhero. Not because he has to be, but because he chooses to be. Tonight, when I whispered, “I love you”, he whispered, “I love you” back.

I tell him every time I see him, so he doesn’t forget. And I take in every hug, every smile, and every giggle — sure that just tomorrow he’ll be a man, the scent of baby shampoo long faded away.

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Monkey and Me Circa 2008

2010

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Thanks for reading! Concrit welcome and appreciated!

*Bobs

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10 Comments

  1. June 14, 2011 at 4:22 am

    Your sensory details bring every moment of this alive. A whole lot of love described here.

  2. Galit Breen said,

    June 14, 2011 at 5:50 am

    Oh the love- it exudes from your words! Perfectly captured right here!

  3. Tracie said,

    June 14, 2011 at 6:56 am

    This is so very sweet. I believe that he is yours, by choice, and that is a beautiful thing all on its own.

  4. KG Waite said,

    June 14, 2011 at 11:44 am

    Very beautiful. I love the say you started with your intro and then put up the prompt. I can feel the love you have for this child. I can see you in the room. I can feel him on my lap. I can see those chubby fingers and, of course, knowing that book by heart, I can recite the words along with you.

  5. Victoria KP said,

    June 14, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    So beautiful! It reminds me of the relationship between my best friend and my son. He has her wrapped around his finger :-).

  6. June 14, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    I remember laying on my friend’s floor when her 1st son was 2yo. He used to love when I came over, would crawl all over me. He refused to nap, but one day I laid on the floor and he just laid flat on top of me and passed out. He stayed that way for 2 hours, leaving a boy-shaped sweat mark on me. I don’t think it has left even after the past decade, because I think of him so often, yet only get to see him 3-4x a year.
    Sweet story, glad you shared it on TRDC linkup.

  7. June 14, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    Bittersweet and lovely…how I wish I could give you a boy of your own who would love all that attention!

  8. Law Momma said,

    June 15, 2011 at 2:07 am

    You wrote this so beautifully that I hope you print it out and slide it into a baby book for your Monkey. He will treasure it always.

  9. Frelle said,

    June 15, 2011 at 3:30 am

    oh the sweetness and the ache. loved this!!

  10. Anastasia said,

    June 18, 2011 at 11:56 am

    I know that feeling, sometimes I think being a parent is so hard, sometimes I want to cry once a day.


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