My 9-year-old son, Waylan, had a flag football game last night. It was chilly. It was windy. I didn’t want to dig out my heavy winter coat, but I knew I would need more than a windbreaker, so I reached for the fuzzy blanket we keep on the back of the sofa in the living room.
My 11-year-old son, Liam, walked in as I was folding the blanket and said, “No, Mom. I’ve got a more ‘football-ish’ blanket for you.” He disappeared to his bedroom and returned moments later carrying his beloved Kansas City Chiefs blanket, which is typically not a shareable item. He held it out to me, with a look of tenderness in his blue eyes, so like my own.
This touched my heart so much.
He knows I have been under the weather for several days. He also knows sitting outside in the wind probably isn’t the best when I am battling allergies, a cold, or severe sinus pressure, but it is what a mother does even when she does not quite feel up to it.
This same child, who spends more time with his eyes glued to his laptop or his headphones drowning out all background noise so he can concentrate on gaming does not always see past the monitor into the needs of others.
Yet when I least expected it, he graciously offered his favorite warm, fuzzy blanket. A gesture of chivalry, selfless concern for the one woman in his life who treasures him like none other.
It is in these little moments of pure, unexpected sweetness that I get lost in the shifting tides of time.
My baby is now a full-fledged young man. Changing daily before my very eyes. Nearly tall enough to surpass me in height. Intelligent enough to beat me at family game night or more suitable to help his little brother with math homework. This near teenager may be speeding toward the angst of those dreaded in-between years, but he still reveals precious snippets of the tender little boy I recall from treasured toddler years gone by.
Those hidden hugs from behind when I am making dinner. Those looks of half-entertained, half-annoyed intrigue when I try to use his pre-adolescent lingo but fail miserably. The wild bedhead he wakes up with every morning. The toothpaste on the mirror because he refuses to spit directly into the sink. The sweaty hugs at the end of his basketball and football games. The innocent stares and small twinkle in his eye when I ask about his seldom talked about girlfriend.
So many small, heartrending moments I want to pause and get lost in forever.
It is so easy to get caught up in the busyness of life. The hustle and bustle of sports practices, game nights, homework woes, studying for tests, birthday parties, school events, and church events.
Not to mention how each son clambers about, spreading his wings farther away from home with each passing day until one day, his flight lands him in a new home, separate from the nest in which he originated. That is a day I dread. It is also a day I know charts new territory for this child, daily making small strides toward manhood.
I will embrace the changes. I will welcome the constant need for just a little more of that independence he craves. I will tearfully allow my baby to branch out, farther and farther away.
The tables slowly turn when the child becomes the caretaker, comforter, and nurturer to the parent who has always tried to be all-encompassing in her eternal blessing of motherhood.
But on days I feel overwhelmed, emotionally spent, and in need of a little something extra, I will tearfully accept his favorite well-worn, fuzzy KC Chiefs blanket.