Falling in love in my comfy chair

I don’t normally share my chair.

The kids have dubbed it my “queen chair” and it is my favorite place to sit in the house. The soft-brown striped cushions are enormous and I sink deep into them. My beloved quilt is always folded across the back so it can be easily pulled down for cuddling and comfort. This is where I read, watch TV, craft, drink my morning coffee and have a good cry. It is also where I nursed my babies and read all the Harry Potter books.

I love my chair.

This week I shared it with a special baby, my sweet nephew. I fed him, burped him, played with him and let him nap in my chair. I spent four days with this little guy and I cherished every moment of being his auntie.

But something else happened this week too.

I truly saw my boy.

He is almost 10-years-old and things are changing.

I can remember sitting in my chair with him as a newborn and being so madly in love with him that I wanted to scream it to the world. He became my reason to get up in the morning, to move my body and to love. We did everything together and practically became one.

Now? I barely know this kid.

This week I took both kids roller-skating as a fundraiser for their school. I completely checked out when we got there, spending time chatting with my friends. At some point I see my boy and I reach my arm out to stop him.

“What are you drinking?” I ask him.

“Coke,” he says. “I won it. Didn’t you see?”

“I didn’t say you could have soda?” I reply.

He skates off and I’m angry that he didn’t ask me first, embarrassed I didn’t see him win something and just plain annoyed. I don’t see him again until it’s time to leave, and then I don’t bring it up because I have no fight left. He puts himself to bed and I barely have enough energy to muster a half-hearted kiss goodnight.

The next day we fight in the morning. I make his breakfast and pack his lunch and he takes 700 hours to put his clothes on.

“I have nothing to wear,” he screams from his room.

“I don’t want to hear it,” I yell back. “Get dressed now. You’re going to make us late.”

He finally comes to breakfast with a scowl and barely touches his food.

We go to a birthday party after school and I see him drinking a Pepsi. I call him over and he tries to hide it. I’m furious.

“Where did you get that?” I ask.

“My friend bought it for me,” he says. “Everyone is drinking them.”

“Not you,” I say and take it from him.

I see his anger and hear him tell his friends that I just don’t understand.

Again, I’m too tired to fix things between us.

We come home and fight over homework until bedtime. He is being so lazy and I’m extremely agitated. I yell. He cries. Not sure I even give him a kiss goodnight.

Yesterday we drop sister off at grandmas. We are alone for the first time in a long time and I just want to yell at him. He was poking at his sister the entire drive, he was rude to me and I want to just scream.

Where is my boy?

I miss him.

I miss us.

I look back at him in the mirror and mentally prepare a lecture about responsibility, kindness and not being a jerk to his mother.

But he looks different.

“You OK?” I ask.

“Mom, I need to talk to you about something,” he says.

“OK,” I reply and then brace myself for what I assume will be a barrage of complaints about how unfair I am to not let him play video games, watch TV or drink soda.

I am ready.

Bring it.

“My friend dreamed he kissed a girl,” he says.

Oh.

“Sometimes I get a funny feeling when I think about girls,” he says.

Oh.

He tells me about some strange dreams he has had, conversations about sex with friends and how he stood up for his sister at recess.

Oh.

I listen quietly, asking questions for clarification, but just taking it all in.

He is processing so much, seeing the world differently and he needs me.

He is talking to me.

I haven’t lost him.

Maybe I’m doing something right.

We talk the entire drive.

We talk about what he wants his future wife to be like, how he can be a better friend to someone he knows is struggling, how he really doesn’t like scary things, what he wants for Christmas and how much he loves the Percy Jackson books.

He talks and talks and talks.

Oh.

I take him in. His long legs and lean body; the way his eyes shine when he gets excited about something; the little smirk he gets when he says something clever; that laugh that he makes with his entire mouth open and his whole body jerking.

I fall in love all over again.

This afternoon I shared my chair with him.

We snuggled under my quilt, took selfies with my phone, giggled and talked.

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I’m in love.

No, he isn’t my sweet baby anymore. He is a growing boy filled with wonder, excitement, joy, optimism and hope. He drives me crazy with his boundless fits of silliness and complete inability to just do what I ask, but I wouldn’t change a thing.

He’s my boy.

Letter to my boy: Tenderness, love and magic

My dearest Cooper,

cooperWhen you came up to me this morning and rubbed your head against my back you may have missed my smile. I know I was busy making breakfast and packing lunches, but I noticed your little purr and the soft way you said “mamma.” I might have barked at you to get ready, but inside my heart was melting at the way you are still so tender and loving.

You are almost 9 years old and that’s huge. All the things I read about that age tell me that you will stop believing in magic and that you are going to change this year. I have been bracing myself for it. I’m going to do my best to be OK with this change. I promise.

But right now, I want to capture the beauty that is you.

Every time I find you snuggled in your stuffy pit talking sweetly to your little friends, I can’t help but swoon. I love the little voices you use and the way you treat them all like living beings in your care.

When we were driving home from school the other day, you started gushing about how much you love stories about fairytale creatures, talking animals and magic. Your love for reading and books is amazing. You are a bit like your mom, son.

I push you to get ready every morning and you get so mad at me. You want to sit and read. You want to cuddle with your stuffed animals and me. It hurts me to literally push you away and make you get ready. It’s the way of the world, my love. We have to do our jobs and yours is to learn. But know that my heart aches for you all day.

Although it may not seem like it, I look forward to our laying in bed reading every night. I’m so filled with joy that you still let me read to you. I love sharing in new stories and love how we both say, “just one more chapter” until daddy tells us we need to go to bed.

Then the kisses. Still the same pattern of kisses you started at age three. Forehead, eyes, cheeks, chin, 8 on the nose (soon to be 9) and then the lips. I sometimes rush through them eager for my time alone, but you always grab my face and slow it down. You make me be in moment with you and I love that about you.

There is a tenderness of spirit about you that draws people to you. I see it at school. All the children in your class love you and it’s much deserved. You do not try to compete or make others feel bad. You share everything you have and rarely ask for anything. Your heart is so big.

This is where my fear for you comes in. The world is not a kind place. You have already learned a little about cancer, death and divorce. You have asked me lots of questions and I always answer them honestly. But you don’t really know about how mean, awful and horrible people can be.

There are people who are going to see your kindness as weakness. They are going to use you. I hope to teach you that these people are not worthy of your attention and love, but I know that you will have to learn some lessons the hard way.

I wish I could shield you from the pain headed your way. But I can’t. You will someday find out that magic is not real in the sense you believe it now. It will make you so sad and upset. It did me. But know this, my love, that some magic is real. I hope you can see it and believe and that the fall isn’t too hard for you.

Someday soon your going to tell me that you hate your yellow room that still has all the decorations I loving put up when I was pregnant with you. When that happens I will try, with all my might, to be gracious and understanding. I will let you design your own space and will be excited to see what you come up with.

Each day you grow more into your own person. Your starting to write now and I love reading your silly stories about Pie Trees and Super Dogs. Then you write something like this: “In my mind, sight does not exist.” Wow.

I love how you can stare for hours at catalogs of toys that you want, but still ask Santa and the Elves for a surprise. “It’s the most important part,” you say. You have such joy and unwavering faith. You never question magic. You just believe.

When you sit and read to your sister I can’t even tell you how proud that makes me. You sound out the words so patiently with her. When she yells at you, which she eventually does, you stop. I can see your hurt and sometimes you are brought to tears by her. But you know that she loves you more than anything else and your quick forgiveness and acceptance of her is one of your greatest strengths.

When I asked you what part you want in the class play, you responded, “I’m not good at that stuff, so I probably won’t get a big part.” No! I don’t want you to limit yourself. Don’t label yourself as not good at something. I tried, and failed, to convey that to you. Your anger and annoyance at me was a clear sign that I needed to back off, and I did. I just want you to know, and believe, that you can do anything you want. ANYTHING!

Yesterday I started karate class. I had been talking about it for a long time and you kept encouraging me to go. I was panicked and almost didn’t do it. I showed that vulnerability to you and told you how scared I was to try something new. You said, “Just do it mom. You will be great! I was scared at first too, but look how good I am now.”

You were right. It was so fun. Seeing how proud you were of me was BY FAR the best part. I loved how you spent time this morning showing me the correct way to pivot my foot for a round-house kick. It’s so fun to share in something you love so much. I can’t wait to go again and learn more.

I CAN do anything, just like you. We can learn and test that together my boy.

I am headed to your class today to celebrate Chanukah with you. I know you won’t acknowledge I am there, you rarely do. But that’s OK. I will observe you and love you from afar. I always will.

Rarely do I take a moment to really marvel at how wonderful it is to be your mother. Today it hit me hard and brought me to tears. You make everything I do worth it. You are my light and I am so honored to be your mom.

Love you more than anything,

Your mamma

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