*100 Beautiful Days of Motherhood: 32
My son’s blue eyes are shining. “I have a present for you, Mommy,” he tells me. A smile that holds a secret spreads across his face.
“Uh-huh. It’s for Christmas. When is Christmas?”
“Oh, Christmas is a long time away.”
“Like a year?”
“Yes, almost a year.”
He looks a little crestfallen. I can tell he’ s doing the math in his head and realizing that a year is about 23% of his total existence, and that’s a long time to wait. “Well…” he considers. “I wanted it to be for Christmas, but…here.”
He shoves his little hand toward me and uncurls five stubby fingers. “Treasures!” he announces and pours into my hand a bead, a BB, one found Lego piece, and a red bit of a Christmas decoration. “I been findin’ them for you,” my baby says with all the sheepishness of a schoolboy.
“Oh, Micah. I love them! Thank you.”
He points to the sparkly bead and shrugs, “That a diamond.”
“You know I love diamonds,” I say, fingering the bright pink jewel.
His blue eyes dance and he nods because he can’t think of what to say. Instead, he throws his arms around me legs and hugs me tight.
I hug him back and kiss him too. I just want to keep him there for a minute and savor the joy of being my little boy’s first love. Someday, he will forget all about pink diamonds and pretty buttons. But I won’t.
I take his treasures up to my room and put them on my dresser. I’m not sure what to do with them, but I can’t quite throw them away. I remember back to when my biggest little boy was Micah’s age.
At four, it was Jonathan’s singular purpose to find the prettiest rocks on the planet for me. Multiple times a day, he’d charge through the front door, recklessly kicking his boots off as he exclaimed, “Mom! Mom! I found a ‘pecial rock! It’s for you, Mom!”
I had to pause whatever I was doing to wash the rock and look at it under the water. I had to notice how pretty the sparkles were or how particular was its rock-ness. As sweet as it was, I sometimes wished there wasn’t so much gravel around the house.
Soon, I had so many rocks on my counters, I didn’t know what to do with them. I piled them around my house plants and the bird bath and eventually paved a pathway from the driveway through the blueberry bushes with special rocks. Sometimes, when he wasn’t looking, I’d toss the rocks back into the gravel and hope Jonathan wouldn’t notice.
Some days, Jonathan found other recipients for his rocks. Our tattooed next-door neighbor with the leather pants, dog collar choker and kind blue eyes was one of his favorites. As soon as Jonathan heard the beat of the bass and the belch of the Harley as it swooped up into our cul-de-sac, he got ready. “Mr. Tom! Hi! Mr. Tom! I have a ‘pecial rock for you, Mr. Tom!”
Sometimes I’d peek out the window at little brown-haired Jonathan, beaming up at burly Mr. Tom, who bent down and smiled back, ruffed some hair and shared a little common appreciation for God’s creation.
One day, after Mr. Tom had already received his daily rock, Jonathan’s screams erupted through the neighborhood. In a second, Mr. Tom was leaping over his fence and our retaining wall because he knew the little boy who loved him had been hurt. He had seen the discarded board and the rusty nail that had gone right through Jonathan’s tender foot.
Jonathan cried out and looked up into Mr. Tom’s face. “You’re okay, Buddy. I gotcha. It’s okay. You know I’m a doctor, right?” It was a little joke because Tom wasn’t a doctor at all. But you couldn’t tell Jonathan that.
Gently, he lifted my son into the car and sent me off to the emergency room without even letting me think or worry or be shocked at the sight of my child with a board nailed to his body.
A few days later, when Jonathan was up and around again, I headed up to Tom and Sandy’s green steps with a plate of cookies and a thank you. But I was stopped short by a neat pile of special rocks on the deck. Tom had saved every one.
One day, I noticed Jonathan had stopped bringing me special rocks. It’s not that he loves me any less, but he is older now, old enough to know that treasures go in shoe boxes and sock drawers. Treasures are for keeping.
But Micah doesn’t know that yet. He is young still, young enough to know that gifts are for giving, and the best gifts are for the one he loves most in all the world. The best gifts are for his mommy.
Unabashedly, he lavishes me with diamonds until I think I must be the richest woman in the world.
“When I get big, can I marry you?” he asks me.
“Nope, you can’t marry me, Micah,” I say as gently as possible.
“Oh. Is it because I’m too little?”
“No, it’s because Daddy would be jealous.”
Micah nods. He sees how that could be a problem.
“Well, then, when I grow up, will I still be your Micah?”
“Okay,” he shrugs again. “And, I will live right here with you.” Micah presses a glass marble into my hand and snuggles into my side. “’Cause I love you da best.”
It is a moment I want to hold on to, like a first kiss.
Someday, he might forget that I was his first love.
But I won’t.