It was shaping up to be another late night. Already 7:30 and we were barely through the first half of my nephew’s high school band concert. My youngest, Eli, was fading fast. After a full day of 2nd grade, karate, and a quick dinner on the run, it was looking like a meltdown was imminent.
“I’m bored,” he whined for the umpteenth time. The music was loud and I’d run out of ideas to keep him occupied. Of course this was the week he’d lost all electronic privileges or my iphone would’ve been the perfect distraction.
“Im bored,” he whimpered again. And then it happened. I don’t know what came over me. But I looked into his deep blue eyes and before I could muzzle the urge to speak, I heard myself say, “Wanna come sit on my lap and snuggle?”
At first he just stared at me as if I had several rotating heads, each with disco ball strobing effects. Clearly I had lost my mind. After all, he was almost 8 years old! That’s only 22 years away from 30. Snuggle? On my lap? How horrifying. I mean, what if someone saw us?
Just as I was about to save face with a broad laugh, elbow to the ribs, and an “Ah…I’m joking,” I noticed him begin to wiggle out of his seat and climb carefully into mine. OMG, it was actually happening. My big, grown-up, little man was nestling into my lap and laying his sleepy head on my chest. It was heavenly.
I tried not to move a muscle. I guess I was afraid that even the slightest shift might jar him into a reality that reminded him how utterly uncool moms were these days. But after a while, I cautiously began to stroke his hair. I even boldly pushed the envelope by gently kissing the top of his head. He didn’t run screaming out of the auditorium or even push my hand away in exasperation. In fact, I think he kind of enjoyed my soothing touch.
Now if I was the kind of person who could simply enjoy a moment like this, life would be a lot less tormented and angst-ridden. But, alas, I am cursed with the neurotic need to analyze, assess, and appraise each and every moment of my life with pain-staking scrutiny. So, as I sat there quietly, my boy near sleep in my lap, I was overcome with emotion. I tried ever so valiantly to be “in the moment,” to enjoy the experience simply for what it was. But I was all too painfully aware of how fleeting these kinds of moments were becoming, which made me try even harder to sear this loving maternal image into my memory banks.
It’s funny how we find ourselves wanting them to grow up in so many ways. We push them. We get mad at them. We want them to do for themselves. But it’s incredibly painful when we realize that that’s exactly what they’ll do — in all too short a time.