sweet from bitter

We play a little game at bedtime, when my sweet boy pulls me beside him under his blue checked sheets to "snuggle for a minute." Body memory remains strong three years later and he flips himself so that his body rests just so against me, just as it did during the nights of his babydom that I don't look back on with much fondness or affection.

I can barely remember the terrible sleepless nights, when he would sleep for perhaps 20 minutes or on a good night a couple hours before waking up and starting the never ending pick up put down, wake up, back and forth to his bedside all.night.long. I became the Mom I said I never would be and would end up cuddling his squishy baby body against mine in our bed, exhausted and utterly out of options.

Even so, by day he was sweet and his little pumpkin face and full cheeks kept him somehow in my good graces and me out of the funny farm. He was sweet even then, but somehow sweeter now.

The baby who would not sleep has become the champion sleeper, nearly always eclipsing his sister's slumber in the morning, most times needing to be woken by Steve as he leaves the house and dropped into bed beside me where he refuses to wake up for several more minutes. He clings to me when I try to leave to hit the shower and get things going, pleading for "just one more snuggie."

It is a pretty amazing gift to be his mom, battle wounds from babydom aside. He envelops me with tight hugs and love. He clings to me like a spider monkey or requests that I carry him in front of me "like a joey." He says, "I'm the baby (insert any animal here) and you the Mommy (insert same animal). Ok?" It's often monkey, or kangaroo, or chicky. He makes cute little noises and pushes his head into the crook of my neck, sighing audibly.

When we wave goodbye to Caroline and I scoop him up into my arms for the walk back from the bus stop just the two of us, we stop to look at acorns and leaves and we point up at birds and listen to the sounds of our neighborhood. This is the time of day that he knows is his alone. It is fleeting, but his.

At bedtime, he tells me, "I love you more than marshmallows," and we go back and forth with "I love you more than..." Brownies. Popsicles. Meatballs. Popcorn. The Red Sox. Tom Brady. Dustin Pedroia.

The other night he told me he loved me more than (insert LONG pause) Monkey, his treasured dirty, never leaves his side lovey. He is sweetness from bitter, love from frustration, and more than anything he somehow knows that I will always be there, because I always was.


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