I just rushed upstairs at the sound of your tears, my heart pounding just a little even though I knew there was likely nothing seriously wrong. You'd woken from your nap, perhaps suddenly, and didn't like it. But a momma's heart is always just a bit terrified to hear her youngest crying.
I worry about you more than I do your sister, actually. Your reluctance to walk, talk, tell me your age, climb stairs alone, use a spoon regularly... all these things have given me pause. You, certainly, are not on your sister's timetable... your behavior as a 3-year-old is closer to hers as a 2-year-old. I know you're a boy, the youngest, and that these things slow you down a bit, and that she was and is a regular whirlwind of Grow Up As Fast As Possible, but still. I wonder about you sometimes, about whether you'll catch up with your peers before kindergarten, about whether I'm doing enough to make sure you can.
I am also completely devoted to you and dazzled by you whether you do or not. You are smart and funny, a boy who could identify all the letters of the alphabet before he could say hardly any other words. You love the Cat In The Hat's new learning show, building things, making tunnels for your trains. You ask for fireworks every time we drive past the parking lot where we parked last fourth of July, and you cry if we drive past the turns that lead our car to Grammy's house. I know you're smart as a whip, in your own way.
I drive you to preschool every Tuesday and Thursday, and even after a few months, part of me still wants to back out of the parking lot and take you home with me. I love our mornings together, full of late-morning jammies and PBS shows and watching you haul your trains around as if they were dollies. But that preschool has connections to the school district therapists that will be giving you extra help soon, and I know that could be a boost in your development that you need. I know too that the structure and the social interaction there has already spurred you further, and that you're learning to follow directions, climb playground equipment, and socialize with other kids there. So I park the car, pull you and your alligator out of the back seat, and lead you in for your six hours away from home. It is usually a little sad for me to do it, though.
Anyway. Back to that crying you were doing.
I sat down on the bed, patted your back, asked if I could hold you, and you gratefully nodded, allowed me to scoop you up. You sit on my lap now to put your head on my shoulder, your long legs sticking out behind me. I wrapped my arms around you gently, and after a minute, your head sank onto my shoulder.
Just like we used to be, all those nights when I'd rock you to sleep after a feeding. Snuggled together, and your heart at peace because of it.
And my heart broke a little to hear your breathing lengthen almost immediately, your limbs growing heavier as you slipped back into your nap.
I laid you down and came back downstairs, thinking of the quote that is so true it's almost become a cliche:
“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” -Elizabeth Stone
You are my heart, walking around outside my body. In the quiet of the just-us-two afternoon, I feel it so deeply. Sleep well, Quinton. Grow up healthy, strong, good, trusting, and brave. I will give my all to see that you get a chance to do so.