Last night my Henry tried to go to bed, but after a few minutes, he came to me, lip quivering, and said he just couldn’t lay by himself and go to sleep.
There was no excuse.
No pretend desire for a glass of water.
No sudden need to pee. Again.
No complaints of phantom boo-boos or itchy tags or pillows that were too cold or any other silly 4-year-old thing that he usually comes up with to delay bedtime.
He just wanted me to hold him a little while because he didn’t want to lay on his bed by himself in the dark at that moment.
First, I did what I thoght I “should” do to preserve our recently perfected bedtime routine, and I gently told him he needed to lay back down.
But then I realized how stupid I was being. Why would I ever miss a chance to hold my baby when he needs me?
So, I told him to get back up, and I scooped him up and we laid on my bed together. As I looked at his tiny little face in the glow of the nightlight, I remembered the years before he was mine, and million nights I fell asleep on a tear-soaked pillow wondering if he would ever exist.
Overwhelmed with the beauty of his tiny little body laying there next to mine, I started to cry a little bit. Henry was a unsure how he felt about that, but I told him that I was just crying because sometimes when I see him, my heart just overflows with love and happiness and it spills out onto my face.
We laid there for a few minutes, and he drew shapes on my face with his sticky little fingers, and I tickled him and we talked about his eyelashes, his freckles, his little round belly…everything that makes him my Henry.
Then, I started talking about school, and he got quiet. He stuck his little finger right into the corner of my eye to make sure there were no more silly “love tears,” then confessed the reason for his sudden need to snuggle: “I’m starting to get a little bit nervous.”
Oh, my boy. My sweet, outgoing, beautiful boy who has never met a stranger. The same boy who has been reassuring ME that he will come home after school, and that I shouldn’t worry about him. For the first time since I first mentioned school back in the spring, he is realizing that this is new territory, and he is a tiny bit afraid.
How my mama heart wanted to tell him he didn’t have to go. He could stay here in our home with me and never walk into that classroom. I wanted to tell him that I’ll call the school and let them know he wasn’t coming- because I’ve been nervous about this for months, and his enthusiasm has been the only thing that allowed me to follow through. I’m not ready.
But I didn’t do that. I didn’t give him the chance to back out. I rubbed his chubby little cheek and I said, “It’s normal to be nervous. But you are so friendly and smart. You will have fun making friends and learning. I know it’s scary to do something new sometimes, but I know my Henry, and I know you’ll do great.”
He didn’t really say much, but he did suddenly feel like he wanted to lay in his bed and go to sleep. He believes me when I tell him who he is.
Today he believes he is friendly and smart. He believes he can do it even when he’s afraid.
And that makes me believe I can let him do it, even though I’m afraid.
Today is the last day of his time as a full-time stay-at-home boy. So, I’m hitting the button to publish these words, and then spending the rest of this day soaking him in.
Sweet love of my life, I’m so honored to walk every road with you. Preschool has never seen a boy exactly like you.