The Day is fast approaching, and life around here feels surreal. So much is focused on The Wedding that it’s hard (for me) to remember anything else, and I find myself surprised that the living room floor still needs vacuuming and dinnertime continues to arrive each night. Life goes on, even from within the wedding machine.
The boys are feeling the strain. They’re facing down the barrel of a major life change, and it’s starting to show in their behavior. How do children display their feelings of insecurity and doubt?
That’s right, by being obnoxious.
They’ve been at each other’s throats, raising sniping and picking and annoying to a whole new level. Tre pulls “superior older brother” attitude on both littler boys and actually ROLLED HIS EYES at me yesterday. Max is by turns dismissive and irritating to the people around him and crawling on my lap, speaking in baby talk. Raphael, who just doesn’t understand about 88% of what’s happening, is ENRAGED by most things that occur in his day. And because I’m the Mama, and I hold their hearts in my engagement-ring-decked-hand, they surround me with their angst. By the end of the day I feel crowded in upon and weary with the efforts to encourage them to be nice. Just Be Nice.
But they are little boys, suffering from uncertainty and hope. And they’re doing the best they can.
Someone told me recently to reassure the boys that I will always love them, that I will not leave them. Ok, I thought, fine. I’ll do that, but I’m pretty sure they know.
When I tucked Max in that night I whispered to him,
“You know I will ALWAYS love you. You will ALWAYS be my boy, and I will NEVER leave you. Nothing can change that.”
He nodded in the dark and threw his arms around my neck for a wordless, tight hug. Then he squirmed away. Complex child that he is, I couldn’t tell how that hit him.
Next I sat on Raphi’s bed and smoothed his hair back.
“I will ALWAYS love you. I will ALWAYS be here. You are my boy and you are precious to me.”
“Mama? Can I have a car?” he asked seriously.
“No, honey. But I DO love you.” He grinned back and flopped over on his side, thereby announcing that he was done talking. Ok. He seems to be fine. I knew they already knew this.
I went on to Tre’s room. He was sitting up in bed, immersed in a book, fiddling with a lump of silly putty on his knee. He looked up when I came in and threw out his arms for the obligatory good night hug.
“Good night, honey. Listen, I know you know this, but I want to tell you something. A lot of things are changing around here, but I want you to know some things never change. I will always love you. I will always be here. I will never leave you.”
He smiled hard and nodded back. His eyes reddened and glazed with tears, but he shrugged and said,
“Oh, I know.”
Stoic child that he is, he would prefer I pull out his toenails than talk about feelings. I looked at him for a moment, wondering if I should push the subject. He yawned showily and said,
“Ok, Mom, good night then.” I nodded and hugged him.
“Good night, honey.”
I stepped out into the hall and stood for a moment, shaken by how intensely Tre reacted to my words.
He needed to hear it.
I needed to say it.
In the night Raphael slipped out of his bed and into mine. I awoke to his hand collecting strands of hair off my cheek.
“Mama?” he whispered, “I will always be your boy an’ you will always love me.”
I pulled him close and said yes, yes, always.
As the countdown drums faster, my boys draw nearer. I wrap my arms as far around them as I can, and I say, Ok guys. Let’s go.