I took Everett to our pediatrician’s office today for a little rash he’s had on his face. Not a big deal, but I wanted to have it looked at before Michael and I headed out on our very first vacation since Everett was born. A little paranoia? Maybe, but I prefer to call it attentiveness to detail.
We have the most wonderful pediatrician in the whole world; I’m convinced of that fact, and I wish everyone loved their doctor like I love ours. Our pediatrician and his wife were close friends and mentors to me long before I was married or had children. I spent hours and hours at their house, and babysitting their 3 boys (before their little princess was born) was one of the things that brought a whole lot of joy into my life during a very dark season. Anytime I bring my kids into his office for a sick visit or a checkup, it’s a small opportunity to catch up on what’s been going on in each others’ families, since we don’t see each other very often anymore.
I reminded him of an old photo I’d seen recently of his 3 boys when they were little. It’s a far cry from the teenagers they are now, towering over all of us. As they are preparing for college, learning to drive and asking girls on homecoming dates, it is hard to believe that they were once just like my tiny boy, clinging to his Momma with a pacifier firmly planted in his mouth. As we relived that memory together, he said something profound. He said, “ I wish I’d appreciated it more when they were that age.”
The most confusing thing about parenting is that the best parts are also the hardest parts. I spend most of my time and energy making sure my children are fed, clothed, avoiding danger, wiping snotty noses and changing poop diapers. It is unbelievably hard to also stop and realize that inside all of this craziness, you are also living your best dream. But, when I think back to the time when I babysat those 3 boys, I remember how lonely and desperate for love I was. They brought the joy and laughter and unconditional love that I needed, and I thank God their parents were so generous to share them with me. And now that I have my own babies, I get to live my life every single day wrapped up in a cocoon of joy and laughter and love that far exceeds anything I ever imagined. Life may be busy and hard and exhausting, but it is also fulfilling in a way that I’ve never known before.
So, one day when I look back at this time and wish I’d appreciated it when they were little, here’s what I’d like to remember about my boy. My favorite moment of every day is putting Everett to sleep at night. I hold him in the rocking chair and sing to him- “the Everett song,” which I made up for him and have sung every day of his life. We also sing “I love you, you love me,” and “You are my sunshine” a lot. I tickle him in all of the right spots that only I know, and he laughs until his pacifier falls out of his mouth and I can spot his five, little crooked teeth. He looks at me in this way that I’m positive he doesn’t look at anyone else. He stares right into my eyes, and is mesmerized by me. It’s a connection, an unspoken knowing of each other. In that moment, I know that he understands that he is loved more than he can possibly know and that no one in the world loves him more than his Momma. I tickle his chin and he laughs a belly laugh. He puts his pacifier in my mouth only to snatch it away again because he loves my look of feigned shock as he steals it from me. As I stand up next to his crib before I lay him down, he places his head on my shoulder and nuzzles his face into my neck, his arm wrapped tightly around my arm. This is it. This is what makes it all worth it. It’s the lottery that I win every single day.
I love that boy more than I could possibly ever explain. No matter how old he gets, how many inches he towers over me, or how far he travels in the world, I’ll always remember this time when he didn’t know much about much, but he knew his Momma loved him.