Their cheeks were flushed bright red from the cold as they filled the room after their first morning recess. While their teacher began to explain their morning work of filling in the number line and counting by 2s and 3s, the kids settled themselves on the floor in a circle. I barely noticed that his head was down, and he was blushing. Ahhh, the teacher noticed; she stopped her talk, smiled, and looked at him and said, “Would you like to introduce our special guest this morning?”
“Surrre,” he quietly said, as he jumped off the floor and ran to stand beside me, “This is my Mom,” he said before hiding his face behind my arm for just a brief shy pause. After the class said, “Hi Miss Susie,” the teacher continued with her explanation of the worksheet, saying that she or I would be around to help them if they let us know by raising their hands. But, he was still there, standing by my side, fingering the sleeve of my coat.
When you become a mother, or even when you’re just thinking about becoming a mother, you hear a lot of myths (all true), and even more talk about how much you will love your child. A love stronger than anything you’ll ever know, they’ll tell you. This I found to be true. But what came with the love was a whole new sense of worry. The love changes you; you become fiercely protective; concerned; and wiser, and weary. Thank God they have adorable faces; it keeps us going.
Not until that moment, as he continued to stand beside me, did I realize how reciprocal this love is. I had always seen myself as the one and only starting point. From me, love filtered down, and occasionally made its way back up. In that moment, I realized how this love has evolved into a circle, flowing back and forth, no ending, no beginning, constant, pulsating… and fierce.
I allowed myself the luxury of standing there in suspension, leaning on his love, while he buoyed me up by fingering the sleeve of my coat. Caught in that split second pause just before the water stops as it reverses itself to rush back to the ocean. That gap just before the next breath comes in, just after the exhale.
He refused to wear long pants that morning, despite the cold. He’s a stubborn little man, never one to yield easily to the passing seasons.
The children scurried from the floor to their tables to begin their counting work, taking me back to the world of number 2 pencils with erasers that were always worn down, as I helped some of them understand that 8 comes after 6, when you count by 2s, and yes, “You did it,” when they rounded that corner of 95, knowing that the next five is 100. That’s always a big step, but the real test is figuring out 110 from 105.
My time was up, and so it was their lunchtime. The thought of him running out to that playground for a good 40 minutes in air that was blowing a couple of snow flurries, in his shorts, compelled me to say, “Why don’t you bring your lunch home with me, and we can get you some warm pants.”
“Sure,” he said. I felt a wave of relief as I anticipated the dissonance of watching those little knees suffer in the bitter cold air, coming to a resolution. Back home, he ate his lunch, while I combed his room for suitable pants. Just as he put one leg through the pant leg, he dropped the pants, and said, “I changed my mind. I’m ready to go back to school now.” In his shorts.