I will lay with him just until he falls asleep and then I will leave. I will be careful not to put my weight on the creaky spot in his doorway or he’ll wake up and the dishes will go undone, and tomorrow’s school lunches will be unmade. Sometimes I fall asleep with him and we sleep heavily, shoved together like cell mates in a crowded prison on his bottom bunk.
It’s habit now to stay after he’s read his book to me and the lights are out. The house is quiet and dark and I am tired at day’s end. I can’t refuse the minutes off my feet and his measured breath is hypnotic and it keeps me here. I remember listening for it from the doorway when he was a baby and I wanted to make sure he hadn’t left us in the night. Does this worry ever cease? I could have used some warning. I’m exhausted by the worry sometimes but it’s a part of me now, inscribed in my flesh like a fingerprint.
He doesn’t seem to care for me very much lately. Not in any cruel sense; rather that the need to create his own space has superseded my desire for sharing stories. So, curled together under a heavy blanket may be all the time I get for a while.
People say your children will leave, but that they eventually “come back to you.” That they pull away and return, only to pull away and return. I don’t like either of those options. The pull stretches my already strained heart, and being one to hold a grudge, I sometimes warm slowly to the coming back. Why must they go, ever? They’re young so I still get the “where” and the “what,” but I miss the “why.” I used to know all of the why’s. I used to be consulted for answers to those questions.
I now see a closed bedroom door where I once had a toddler wrapped around my leg. There is a “please stop asking me questions” when I finally got accustomed to answering countless ones.
Maybe I will let myself fall asleep here in this bunk tonight. It’s already warm with the heat from his small body and tomorrow he will turn from my kisses.