Today I chose to smile when you woke me up early because it was my fault I went to bed late last night. You were so excited to see me you couldn’t keep your voice down though the baby was sleeping. And so I chose to touch your face, put my palm on the curve of your chin and remind you gently, looking into your eyes, that your brother was sleeping.
I chose to take your hand as we walked back to your room where sister stood in her crib calling “Mamma!” I chose not to stumble dumbly to her crib although my feet felt wobbly and my eyes were grainy. I opened the blinds and there was sweet Sister, looking up at me with those wide blue eyes.
We walked to the couch and snuggled down into it’s rumpled depths and I chose to get your milk before I got my coffee. I remembered to look into your eyes when you spoke, instead of down at my phone where all the emails are.
I am learning something in these days with you.
I chose not to pack everyone up and run out to the store even though we were out of EVERYTHING because you had a cold. And I learned this morning that Sister flourishes at home. I chose to nurse the baby in your room so you could be with me while you played and I learned even more.
You love to play alone with me near. You love to show me what you’re building, receive my encouragement, see my eyes on your face. Sister loves the same things, too. “Look, mamma! Mine tower, mine tower!”
After play time I chose to let you make your bed without any help from me and was amazed by how straight you made the blankets. How you folded the big one by yourself. How did you do that?
How did you come to grow so capable and so strong?
When did Sister’s neck lengthen and her chin become so defined? Where did all the baby fat go?
I looked at the two of you today and lost my breath. Baby brother in my arms I held him close because this reality is finally so real to me. You were given to me to grow. You were given to me to grow up and grow on and this is my job. To let you grow up and someday on.
And so I choose to be here with you today. Really here. I chose to enter in, to be one who really knows you. I choose to become an expert in you rather than an expert in the million other things out there I could be doing. Because I will always have myself but one day you will be grown and gone and the one thing we will still have are these memories.
I choose to make them with you today.
I am learning.
And yes, the messiness of the living room frustrated me today. But you were bouncing off the walls and so I took you outside to play. And I chose to sit in a chair just watching because won’t I want to remember this later? Will I remember the crackers on the floor when I am an old woman all covered up in gray? And if I do, won’t I miss them terribly?
My grandma says she used to leave our handprints on the glass door for weeks after we’d gone. Gosh, I still remember putting my hands on that cold glass and looking out at the peacocks in the yard. Time, what a bizarre and fleeting thing you are.
My boy, tonight I chose to give you just a few extra minutes while I tucked you in. You put your hand on my face and said, “I just love you so much mommy.” And I chose to let that sink in.
Tomorrow I’ll have a whole new set of choices to make, but at least today I know I chose right.
I chose you.