Owen loves me more in the middle of the night than any other time. Recently, he has awakened, crying, saying, "Mommy! Don't leave! Don't leaveee! Moooooooooomy!" Last night he did it twice. All it takes is a quick tuck-in and a hug, and Owen's back to his pleasant dreams of washing machines, Diego, and Lego Water Towers, in his own bed.
We've always been very vigilant about not allowing the boys into our bed. First off, it's a full, so its already a tight squeeze for Paul and I. Secondly, we don't want them there. Yet, there are times, when I'm laying on Owen's bed, doing bedtime prayers and reading stories, that I just want to turn off the lights, smell his little head, and hold him as he drifts off to sleep.
I find myself stealing away kisses and hugs, storing them like a pioneer woman preparing her root cellar for the winter's chill. When I'm buckling him into the car seat, I'll kiss him on the cheek. When reading stories or watching TV, I'll wrap my arms around him and enjoy his warm body. Recently, he's taken to laying on the couch or the floor, and letting me gently rub his back. I'll feel the bumps of his spine, the ping of his shoulder blades, and I'll memorize the contours and textures. Sometimes, I can't help myself from patting his little bottom.
You see, he's changing already. He face is thinner--there's no baby there anymore. The dimpled legs and chubby thighs of 2006 have given way to 2009's long legs and arms. The arms that he once lifted up as a signal to pick him up are now dappled with dirt and magic marker. The legs that once toddled from chair to chair in our kitchen now run down hills and peddle tricycles.
I know, having taught middle school, that boys become stingy with their affections. They dispense kisses or hugs to their mothers about as often as they pick up their shoes or organize their backpacks. Not often. This is normal, and the way of the world.
It doesn't mean I have to like it. Some nights, I'll lie in bed, thinking of his funny little elbows and poky little tummy, and the sensation of love is so powerful that tears come to my eyes.
Although I don't always want to come to him when he calls for me at night, I fear for the day that he will no longer call.
To prepare for that day, I'm storing up, so memory can sustain and nourish me.