Comfort Food

When I was young, I liked to lie in my mom’s lap, with my head rested on her chest, and listen to her talk. I liked how her voice reverberated through her chest. I liked the warmth and feeling her heart beat under my face. I liked being the only person experiencing her voice and her touch in that way at that moment. These are intensely pleasurable memories. Comfort food for the soul.

Last night, I stepped up to my six foot tall son as he put his PS4 controller away after another epic round of Fortnite. When I reached out for a hug, he hugged back and didn’t quickly let go.

I wrapped my arms around his waist and nestled my head against his chest. He continued talking to his dad about the game. I marveled at how his deep voice reverberated through his chest. I soaked in the warmth. I felt his heart beat near my face. I could have stood there forever. I cherished being the only person he calls mom. The only person who gets this particular hug.

I don’t see my mom as often as I’d like and I never rest in her lap with my head on her chest anymore. But I get a good taste of that old comfort every time we hug. And now I can get a similar sensation with my son. Comfort food for the soul.

Always Stay Little

Sometimes Hal can really make life difficult. Like when he hollers for me to come wipe his bottom right after I finally sit down for a rest. Or when he’s wiggling and making noise right next to me as I try to record his sister’s band concert. Or when he opens something I was planning to return to the store. Or when he scribbles his special sanskrit on the wall in Sharpie, carefully hidden behind the recliner.

But small little moments like tonight make it all worthwhile. He needed to go to the bathroom but the hall bathroom was occupied by his sister and the master bath by his father. Neither was likely to free up soon. “And I don’t want to go to the pooseum,” he said.

The pooseum is what we call the little half bath at the end of the laundry room. My husband has pottery on display in there – hence it’s the museum where people go poo. Go ahead and groan, I know you want to.

It is a small room with no windows. It has a large utility sink instead of your standard bathroom one. It is also where we tend to store cleaning supplies and some other miscellaneous stuff. And, as I already said, it’s at the end of the laundry room, which is at the far end of the house. In other words, it’s a room carefully designed to make a five year old intensely uncomfortable, even scared.

“Tell you what, I’ll go with you,” I said.

“And you’ll stay in the room with me?”

“Yes,” I said, as I reached down to him. “Here. I’ll even carry you.”

I don’t know if he didn’t give the usual springboard help with his legs or what, but he was noticeably more difficult to pick up. “Gosh,” I said, “You sure are getting heavy!”

His face fell and he looked incredibly sad. I’ve made the remark before so I was puzzled by his changed demeanor. In a sullen voice, he said, “I don’t want to get too big for you to pick up.”

“Well, honey, you are going to some day.”

He hugged me tight and continued to look sad.

“But it’ll still be a little while. I bet I can still hold you for awhile longer.”

He buried his face in my neck.

“Hey, look at me,” I said. He looked up as I told him, “You know what? When you finally get too big for me to hold, I’ll be really sad but I bet you won’t be. I bet you’ll be excited to be a big boy.”

He looked me in the eye and said, “I wish I could always stay little so you can hold me.”

My heart melted.

Oh, little boy. It is my fervent wish that you will always feel that way. Even once I have to sit down to hold you in my lap. Even once you are the one cradling me in your big arms. I hope you still stretch your arms back behind your back and tell me you love me “thiiiiiiiis much!” I hope some part of you still wishes you were the little boy in his mother’s arms. I hope you still tell me you love me “all the way to heaven.” But if you don’t, I’ll always remember tonight when you desperately wanted to stay in my arms forever.

Some Hairy Beast

One of my children had just completed their shower and was approaching me in another room.

“Mommy, I think I need to start shaving.”
“No you don’t. You are too young.”
“No I’m not! Just look at me! I’m getting so hairy and it’s even worse when I’m dry!”
“Nobody shaves their arms, Daryl, and men don’t shave their legs.”
“WHAT??!! Are you serious?! I’m just supposed to turn into some hairy beast?! I could become a whole new species of animal!”

The concerned child was my eight year old son. I had my back to him when he began speaking. I thought he was referring to an area that he would most likely shave at some point: his face. My natural response was Really? That baby face? You’ve got to be kidding me! So I was more than a bit surprised to turn around and see him, not rubbing his chin, but holding his wet arm up near his face and rubbing the fine blond hairs around.

I don’t think he even heard me ask “Have you seen your father?” He was too busy ranting about his pending metamorphosis into a hairy beast, which actually isn’t that far from reality if he takes after his father. My husband’s chest hair rivals that of Tom Selleck. And his beard, I’m not exaggerating, would put ZZ Top to shame. I just measured it at 18 inches from his chin. Not too long ago, he cut 8 inches to even it out, which was necessary after an encounter with an electric drill removed a chunk of it. He now routinely ties it in a knot to keep it out of his way. And he deftly tucks it under his shirt to eat.

I guess I should assure my son that he will not become a new species of animal, even if he does become a hairy beast. His father already beat him to it.