As we pushed through the door, I felt his arms wrap around my leg.
Even though he loves his school, even though he’s been going twice a week since September, he still grabs my leg when we enter the room.
Once he’s in the room, he settles in quickly.
But he stalls at that moment of entry.
I reached down to hold his hand, my other arm snaked around the baby in her sling.
Present for both.
After almost six months, it’s second nature.
When we made it past the threshold, his teacher greeted him and motioned him over.
She handed him a clay pot, containing two flowering plants.
The pot was painted with acrylics.
Memories flashed—picking him up one day, his hands covered with acrylic paint. The smell of art mingled with the sweet scent of a boy who has played outside. Apparently he painted his hands, in addition to his project, that day.
And of another day, his proud declaration that he planted for me.
On this day, he took the pot from his teacher and crossed back to me.
“Happy Mother’s Day,” he said, holding his hands out.
Offering his gift.
I knelt down, reaching for him, the weight of the baby in her sling testing my balance.
His smile was shy and sweet.
Pure, in that way that I know won’t last.
I took the pot and hugged him close.
Thanked him and told him how much I loved him.
He hugged me back.
“I love you, Mama.”
This weekend, we practiced the special Mother’s Day song they taught him at school.
He asked me, again and again, to sing it with him, his voice, soft and unsure, joining mine.
Tonight, as I rocked the baby, I heard his murmurs through their shared wall.
I couldn’t make out what he was saying.
I looked down at her, my happy baby who’s struggling with teething.
My baby who loves her mother more than anything in her world.
Her stomach was full, and she was at peace.
Her eyes met mine, trusting and sure.
As they drifted close, her body grew heavy.
She held my hand.
When she’s in her carseat or crib, she always settles when I put my hand on the side of her face.
As her cheek relaxed into my arm, I suddenly understood why.
It is humbling to be loved in this way.
To be, in their eyes, infallible and constant and omniscient.
To be the center of their world.
This was my third Mother’s Day.
My third opportunity to receive the well wishes from strangers, to look forward to special meals and pampering gifts.
But something about this one was different, better, more meaningful, than the others.