It was always the same. I would feel his little hands on my legs, tugging gently and often, I am ashamed to say, it was sometimes at the most inconvenient times. I would reach over (mutter under my breath) and turn off the kitchen faucet…frustrated I would grab a towel to dry my hands and then turn slightly and see his little eyes asking what his mouth could not. Pick me up, Mama!. After awhile, he learned to hold his arms up pleadingly and would make this pathetic little grunt to let me know that he wanted to be held.
Often, I would swoop him up to my hip not-so-gently and go about my business…not taking the time to hold him as close as I could or even turn to him to interact but, instead, just loaded him up on my hip as if he were a basket of laundry that I was dragging indoors.
Months and months of baby, and then toddler, glued to my side, my right arm became significantly stronger than my left because of the constant added weight. In the evenings, I would softly whimper at the pain between my shoulder blades. Sometimes, Mark would force me to lay flat on my stomach and would successfully crack my back in the spot that was most knotted up yet the very next evening it would be locked up tight again from hours and hours of hip riding.
And then…it just all stopped.
One day…and then two….and then four…went by without the neediness. I no longer felt his little feet curled against my side, gripping me like a koala bear. A week went by and I didn’t have to scold him for tangling his hands in my long hair and tugging painfully. Suddenly, I missed the weight of his body on my body. It felt strange to have two hands to complete a chore…I was not sure if I liked it very much after all.
He had crossed some invisible line. He had stepped over into a world that no longer compelled him to hang onto Mommy. He had tasted freedom, he had his sea legs and there was no looking back. Oh, he still needs to know that I am in the room, or close by when he is outdoors…he still stops playing suddenly and whips his head around to look for me, once spotting me he returns to what he is doing with only the slightest interruption. He still needs me (thank goodness!) but he doesn’t need that physical connection any longer.
Last night it hit me that I had gone nearly two full days and had barely held him other than to pick him up to change his diaper, put on clean clothes or lift him into his chair at dinner. It had been two full days since I had held him for any significant period of time. My arms felt so empty and I was saddened.
I moved over to pick him up from where he was playing on the floor and he pushed my hands away. He was in the middle of an imaginary world of Matchbox cars and didn’t need his mommy bothering him. It stung.
Then later, when sleepiness had overtaken his desire to squeeze more from the day and he was grumpy and prone to tears for no good reason he came to me. In the middle of a tantrum due to over-tiredness, he walked over and reached up with tired little arms, pleading with his eyes. I gladly scooped him up and comforted him as best I could. I sang softly to him and pressed his head to my chest and felt his entire body relax. It felt so good to hold him and I didn’t want to put him down.
Not ever again.
This photo is also my entry for the You Capture them for the week…”Down Low”
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