The white noise of his sound machine, mingled with our nightly lullabies, filled the air.
I felt my back protest and flatten as I lay in his bed.
Carrying a baby, chasing a toddler, protecting them both wears on my body.
It was another long day.
Full of wonderful moments.
And those that weren’t.
Laughter and kisses, tantrums and pain.
He doesn’t understand that he can injure other people yet.
He doesn’t realize the consequences of his actions.
The difference between a playful tug and a hard pull on hair.
That a kick, hurled in laughter, can hurt me.
He thinks my reactions are funny.
He cannot modulate his emotions.
His whims are erratic.
His moves unpredictable.
And the baby is small.
The stakes are high.
I was tired and frustrated, weary of my message not sinking in.
I was ready for the day to end.
Ready to leave his room.
To rock her and put her to bed.
To tackle the work that waited for me.
And maybe, maybe, if there was time, to write.
To find peace and unwind.
As my mind drifted, through the past and into the future, he reached in my direction.
I tensed, fearing another exuberant display of love.
But he surprised me.
He held my face still.
“I want to kiss you, Mama.”
And he delivered a gentle kiss on my cheek.
Punctuated by the new smacking sound he has learned to make.
I hugged him.
“That was the best kiss I’ve ever had,” I told him.
“I love you, Mama,” he said.
His voice rang pure and sweet and true.
No defiance, no toddler bravado, no anger.
Just my little boy.
I love him too.