Loving Tentacles

I stumbled into a perfect moment.  Well, stumbled isn’t the right word.  I guess I snuggled into it.

Ben is working late.  He’s still not home.  On nights like these, I tend to linger as I put the boys to bed.  I talk for a few extra minutes, giggle and share secrets.  I leisurely stroke their hair and gaze at their faces, dumbfounded that I, with my multitude of imperfections, somehow had a role in bringing these beautiful creatures into the world.  How is that possible?

Tonight, on impulse, I tweaked Kellen’s nose and said “Oh, this looks like a cherry.  I better eat it.”

He laughed, so I elaborated.

“Look at these cheeks.  They look like ripe little peaches.  Better each those too.  Oh, what about these watermelon lips.”

Kellen delighted in the attention, inquiring as to what each body part resembled, waiting for me to gobble them up.

When I finished off his crouton toes (that kid loves some croutons), I said “Do you know how much I love you?”

He nodded, but I couldn’t going on.

“I love you to the moon and back.  Around the sun, to the top of the mountain, down to the bottom of the ocean, all the way out to Jupiter…”

I went still further.

“No, not Jupiter.  Past Jupiter.  All the way to Neptune.  Nope all the way to Pluto (the kid also loves Pluto) and back again, right into your heart.  I don’t just love you to the other side of the room.  I don’t just love you across the street.”

By this time, he’s giggling.

“As big as big can get, that’s how much I love you.”

“Do you love me even when I’m not around?”

“Yes.”

“Will you love me when I’m dead?”

“Yes.  No matter where you are, or what you do, I love you.”

I leaned in to give him a farewell hug before parting to put his brother to bed, and he clung to me in a way that was not routine.  Through his touch, he said stay.  It is one of the things I really love about Kellen.  He is not the most expressive with words, but man, do his gestures ever speak.  I asked if he wanted me to come back and snuggle him after I tucked Liam in and he said yes.  I did just that and laid with him long after his breath took on the rhythmic pattern of slumber.  It’s like I tell them all the time- Moms need to hold their babies.

It will sound bizarre, but when I lie next to them, I imagine us as some sort of gelatinous, tentacled, symbiotic creatures- through the course of the day, we stretch apart, our rubber-like tentacles growing thin and strained as they expand to greater and greater distance.  But when we are once again in close proximity, the tentacles languidly relax and bounce back to shape, intertwining into thicker stronger strands, connecting.

Last week, I was talking to my teenage niece about the upcoming day when my kids will no longer want to be around me.  All parents understand this is inevitable- or at least they should.  I was explaining to her that while I grasped this, I also knew that I would have a hard time when this time is finally upon me.  When parents look at their kids, they see the most amazing, interesting, unique people they have ever met.  They marvel at their creativity, their zest for life, their wonder with the world.  Every new trick is a milestone, every joke another chapter in the world’s best book.

I know one day, there will be some other gelatinous blob.  Or blobs.  And that my kids’ rubbery tentacles will begin to intertwine with these foreign blobs and form new colonies.  But hopefully a few of those tentacles remain connected with mine, enough to keep us attached for a future time.  Perhaps once my blobs start having little blobs of their own, their tentacles will once again reach out to mine and determine that while yes, their mother is fairly weird and creepy to have written a post such as this, she would still move mountains and seas for their sake.  That she would still find no greater joy than making them laugh or being on the receiving end of a hug that says stay.

May your tentacles intertwine with the ones you love best.  Good night.

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