When I heard the garage door open, I started down the stairs.
They had been gone a while.
My husband and son went to the barber shop and the grocery store.
This was the first time someone other than his father cut the boy’s hair.
I wanted to see the results.
But there was more.
While I treasured a morning alone with the baby, I missed the guys of our family. I was glad they were home.
Plus, I figured my husband would need some help getting the groceries inside. Or rather watching the almost three year old while he brought the groceries inside. Children his age are nothing if not helpful.
As they walked in the door, I was waiting.
My son called my name happily and flung himself into my arms.
The hood was up on his sweatshirt, so I couldn’t see his hair.
I reached my hands up and pushed the hood back.
Felt the shaved area near his neck.
And yet still so little.
He smelled of some foreign tonic and his favorite pretzels, the ones I knew he opened in the car as they left the grocery store.
As I hugged his little body close, he laughed.
“Mama, we got you a present!,” he said, dancing away.
His hair looked short. Not too short. But like a little boy. Not a baby.
His dad chuckled and reminded him, “Boy, that was supposed to be a surprise.”
But I wasn’t really surprised—this weekend was our wedding anniversary.
And they had been gone too long.
My husband often takes our son to buy presents.
Dad and son, off on their missions. Discussing the merits of various presents. Plotting together.
And always, always, the boy shares the secret as soon as he sees me.
He’s incapable of not telling a story.
And so he kept talking.
“Mama, I went to the camera store!”
I felt my laughter rising to meet theirs.
Big rolling laughs, the kind that make my stomach muscles ache from their intensity and pureness.
The kind that, for a couple months, seemed lost to me.
I missed those laughs, more than I even knew.
“Mama, I saw lots of cameras! I saw a pink camera!”
I welcomed the laughter back a couple weeks ago.
And now, as my son spoiled his father’s surprise, my laughter just kept coming.
I knew a pink camera wasn’t my present—I have a new camera. But I had an idea what they might have bought. And that wasn’t really the present they gave me that mattered.