Just before drifting off to sleep, my son rolls over to check that I'm still there and grips my hand more tightly in his. I like to think that he's locking my presence into his dreams. Sometimes, while lying in the dark or playing in the light, I think about all of the things I need to do.
I think about work, about donating unused baby items and about how far behind I am. I think about writing, about broken flower pots neglected in our tiny yard, cracked from this endless winter that is almost spring.
Sometimes I stop and focus on my son's hand in mine.
Remember what it feels like to be lying in the dark, listening to a sweet 5-year-old's breaths become deeper, regardless of what remains undone in the rest of the house.
One day, I'll be gone.
One day, so will little-boy-him. Eventually, too, old-man-him, his mother reduced to memories of quirks, frustrations, love, forgotten scents and years of laughter. Reduced to weathered photo albums, some jewelry keepsakes and a box of once-important mementos that hasn't been opened in years.
I hope to be really old.
I hope that I am wrinkled and stooped and able to meet my grandchildren. I hope to tell them about their father, my now baby boy and my then-grown son. I hope to tell them about how brave he has always been.
How he struggled with language and how he always finds the light and the laughter. How eager he is to play and to please.
I want to remember vulnerable him. That when his 2 A.M. bad-dream cries pull me from my good ones, I know that one day, I'll miss that.
Remember the not-so-little little boy who rolls over to check that I'm there while he fights sleep.
The little boy who is proud and embarrassed and silly and funny and perfectly himself.
I want to remember.
I want to live long enough so that I feel OK when leaving. I don't know that there's ever a time that any parent feels OK leaving this life, but I have faith that some of us manage to do so in peace. That we leave knowing that we were enough.
I want to live long enough to tell my unwritten stories. Those of my grandchildren's father who is my today little boy. To tell stories of myself, and those of our fathers and mothers even before us.
I want to tell my son's children about their pasts.
I want to remind them that breathing the summer's night air or the crispness of a freezing winter evening while looking at the stars has felt the same since forever and always will. For all of us.
That life and what we do with it matters.
I want to remember these moments and I want to know my old man son.
I hope to know his children, and to have them know me. I want to live long enough to where my little boy who will one day be a man -- but will always be my baby -- knows, without a doubt, that I love him.
For who he is. Because of, and in spite of himself. I want him to know that I love him for all of the days in the way that he knows I do today.
I hope to become old enough to see my son realize that he can do anything. That he already changed the world when he came into mine.
I want him to know that I am proud of him. That I will always be proud of him. Whether he is a cashier or an engineer. That what he chooses to do doesn't matter as long as tries and that he finds acceptance and fulfillment there.
I want to remember that he's my very best greatest ever most favorite always. Regardless of what I need to do during the rest of my time.
Remember this now, when I'm thinking about the to-dos. Remember this tomorrow, when we're running late. Remember this always.