Your gangly toddler legs hug my waist as you cling to me.

I squeeze tightly, then lower you to the floor as I gently detach your grip from around my neck, doing my best to avoid meeting your tear-filled eyes. I know that if I do, I’ll be utterly undone.

I start to turn away, hoping you won’t hear the catch in my voice.

Mommy needs to go now, sweetie. She’ll be back soon, I promise!”

Nothing I can do reassures you, no soothing words calm you. Your hysterical cries follow me to the door as I quickly slip out.

I duck my head and walk briskly to the car. I glance up briefly to see your sweet face in the window, your eyes puffy and red, both hands pressed up against the glass.

Trying to get to me.

My eyes brim as I imagine what it is you’re thinking in this exact moment.

Do you worry that I won’t come back?
Are you afraid that I’ll forget you?

Oh my baby, if only you knew how impossible that would be.

If only you knew I would sooner forget to breathe.
If only you knew what it would take to keep me from you.

If only you knew.

The imprint you’ve carved into my being can never be erased.
The grooves you’ve etched into my soul are too deep to ever fade.

And the love—the boundless, unconditional love of a mama—that you’ve inscribed onto my heart, will never waver, never falter. 

Long after the very last beat.

My sweet, if there’s one thing you should know, and carry with you always . . .

It’s that Mommy comes back.

She always comes back.

She never could forget you.

This article originally appeared on Shower Arguments

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Emily Solberg

Emily Solberg is a soldier, military spouse, mom to two toddlers, and fierce advocate of women supporting women. The goal of her writing is to help others feel less alone in their parenting journeys, and she isn’t afraid to share the hard along with the good. You can find more from her on her Facebook page, Shower Arguments.