Sometimes, six-year-old Joey is a little rough around the edges. Just the other day, after I told him he couldn’t do something, he told me he didn’t really like living in our house. On occasion, he’s told me he doesn’t love me anymore. When he was younger, he’d declare, “I’m not your mommy anymore.” I’d tell him, “OK, that’s fine” and try to move on and tuck away my hurt feelings. Joey always recovers after his stern declarations, though, and then out pops the sensitive soul I know so well.
The other day, Joey took a bad spill on his scooter. He hit a bottle cap in the street and scraped his long, lean body across the pavement. He wasn’t wearing much, only shorts and flip-flops, so he was left with cuts on his hip, elbows, knees, tummy, and knuckles. He cried, no, screamed and pleaded for someone to make him better. I tried. I put him a cool tub and let him soak his wounds. I gave him Ibuprofen for his pain, helped him find clothing that wouldn’t rub his sore spots, and allowed him to snuggle on my bed in front of the TV, even though it was nearly bedtime. He asked for a blanket and when I told him to use my quilt, the one friends made for me during my breast cancer treatment, he looked up at me with a somber a face and said, “But mommy, that’s your special blanket that your friends wrote on.” My friends had written inspiring messages on the patchwork of the quilt, and Joey was worried his boo-boos might dirty what he knows is one of my favorite possessions. I let him use it anyway. It fared just fine.
Joey and Danny love to sing in the car. Sometimes I join them, like I did a few days ago. I’m not sure what we were singing at the time but as we pulled into our garage, we decided to stay put for a few minutes so we could finish belting out our song. As we were finishing and I was turning off the car, Joey said, “Mommy, you should be on the stage. Your voice is beautiful.” No one has ever told me that before, probably because my singing voice is not really good at all. Still, Joey’s compliment sent my heart soaring. What a guy.
Joey is a sweet boy. He tells me my hair is pretty, even prettier than it was before cancer, he says, and that I am nice to him and that he is so glad I’m his mom. I tell him it’s my pleasure to be his mom. He tells me it’s his pleasure I’m alive after cancer.
I think it’s best to take parenthood one moment at time. If we don’t like what’s happening during one moment, we should simply let it pass. Because what happens next might just warm our hearts, lift our spirits, and validate all we do in our demanding jobs. It works well for me this way. One moment at a time.