Kellen fell asleep watching a television show today. I found him leaning against the arm of the couch in one of those awkward positions that looks like it must be really uncomfortable yet somehow never seem to bother children. His neck was cocked to the side, resting on his shoulder, as if he was in mid-breath and somehow passed out into a deep sleep.
I told myself I was moving him because I wanted him to be more comfortable. But really, I just wanted to hold him. He’s almost four years old, and he’s my youngest. My days of snuggling a sleeping child are numbered.
A friend once told me sometimes she would open the door to her kids rooms while they were sleeping just so she could smell them. I know, it sounds kind of creepy, but I totally get this. As I nuzzle Kellen’s hair, his scent sends a calm throughout my body. There can be no greater feeling the warmth of his skin, smoothing his crazy hair, and just holding him. Blissed out. Done.
Before I had kids, a friend said something about her daughter.
“You can’t even imagine the love you have for your kid. Your husband- You think you love him. But the love you have for your kid is something else.”
I really hated those comments before I was a mom. They made me feel like I was being called a remedial love hack. Like I couldn’t possibly contemplate the deepness of love. Hey lady, I know love. I read Richard Bach One. I cried during What Dreams May Come and The World According to Garp (why does Robin Williams star in all my crying movies?)
I don’t know if the love you have for your child is greater, but it is different- beyond primal. As if every instinct in your body is directing you to love this being. You can do nothing else.
The instinct will flare up without forethought or control. A couple of weeks ago, Kellen woke up in the night coughing. When he has bad flareups, he has a neubulizer to help him breathe. He HATES the breathing treatments, and it had been more than a year since he has had one.
I had Ben hold him while I gathered the machine and the medicine. Once I had everything in place, I held out my arms for Ben to give me Kellen. But he didn’t. He took the breathing mask and placed it over Kellen’s nose. Kellen was screaming. Internally, so was I. Give me my baby!!!!!
Ben said “I’ll handle it. He’s ok.”
Huh? No! He’s not ok. How can he be ok if I’m not holding him??!?
I retreated to our bedroom to lay on the mattress stiff as a board with tears running down my face. I secretly hoped that Kellen would became so agitated that Ben would be forced to call for me. But he quickly calmed down, completed the breathing treatment, and went back to sleep.
Ben returned to the room.
“He needs to know that I can comfort him too.”
Yes. Yes he does. That’s what my head says. But me instinct yells NO! ONLY ME!
I didn’t watch the Academy Awards, but I heard the clip of an acceptance speech on NPR where someone said “Call your parents. If they are alive call them. And let them talk for as long as they want, about whatever they want.”
People make those crappy statements about “you can’t understand until you have a child of your own” because there is truth to them. It is strange to me, that in the not too distant future, the important things in my kids’ lives will be apart from me. They will be wrapped up in school and friends and eventually careers and adult lives. They will have no idea how difficult it is to have your every move and thought somehow intertwined with theirs, and to have that disappear. I can’t even fathom it. My instincts will not allow it.