Stuffed Animals

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I think I got onto him several times today for not doing what I asked of him. Small things. Cleaning the bathroom, a chore he owed me. Or “Can you get the dog some food?” or “give your brother back the iPad” type of offenses. Not pure outward defiance. But he subtly disregarded me. Looks can be deceiving sometimes. On the outside, he still looks like a young boy but inside he is changing. Wiggling. Growing. Testing. Constantly testing. Me.
Then, there are the times when he walks over to me in the kitchen and pushes his lanky body right up in front of me. I drape my long arms around him and rest my chin on his head. And I hold him. Feel his hair. Briefly. He doesn’t need to say any words.
There are also the unabashed moments when he just plops right down onto my lap around the dinner table. Typically after school. Maybe all this growing up stuff can be confusing or scary. Mom-holds can help settle the uncertainty. And he knows this mama will always make room for him on the bench or find the time for extra hugs, snuggles or comfort.
He’s always preferred to fall asleep with the light on. His vivid nighttime imagination comes to life with the flip of a switch. He has quite the sleep resume: talking, walking, bed robbing and night terrors. This boy prefers less darkness. More daytime. Rightfully so. It’s safer to settle your mind when you can see the sounds and know what’s around you.
Tonight, like many nights, I saw his light on and walked in to find him asleep with his hoodie up and his arms cradling three stuffed animals: Camo, Rocket the Raccoon and Buoy, his stuffed guinea pig. His legs are getting longer. His brain keeps on getting stronger but his little boy heart still reaches back to grab onto his youth.
Heart teasing moments like these pull and pull and pull on my mama’s restless heart. Please let up. It’s hard for me not to sneak right up next to him and put my hand over his heart and listen again to his deep sleep breathing. He’s so peaceful and beautiful. Nearly eleven years old. Others may venture the world to see the most breathtaking art but oh, how grateful I am to witness this boy. From the shortest distance. Up close. Sleeping. Breathing. Playing. Laughing. Arguing. Helping. Growing. Always growing.
Thank you, God, for this gift. Sacred moments. Times three.
Lord, help me with my twisting, turning, growing, constantly adapting mama’s heart.

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