The Boy has headaches. I had them, too, as a kid -- still do, actually -- so when he tells me his head hurts, I take him seriously. We've taken him to the doctor, who thinks it might be allergies. It could be something he outgrows. Or headaches might just be a part of his life, as they are mine. Most days, his headaches are no big thing. They don't stop him from running around the playground til his hair is sweaty and his knees are brown with bruises and dirt. They don't stop him from singing silly songs or showing me how he's learned to hop on one foot. They don't, unfortunately, stop him from fighting with his brother.
But yesterday, his head hurt really bad. I knew even before he told me. His eyes were heavy as he ate his lunch and he kept stopping to rub his forehead before he slowly speared another piece of bug-shaped macaroni. We told him to drink some water, eat his lunch and take a nap. If he still felt bad after, we would talk about some medicine. He gets headaches so often, I hate to give him ibuprofen or acetaminophen unless we really have to. We had kept the boys up late two nights in a row, so I also thought lack of sleep might be causing this particular headache. The Boy is a kid who needs his rest.
A few hours later, The Boy woke up in tears.
"My head still hurts." His face, which has been looking so much thinner and older lately, crumpled. He looked like my baby, the squally little boy who made me a momma.
I picked him up, all 45 pounds of him, and carried him into the kitchen. His legs dangled down to my knees, but his head rested on my shoulder, just like it used to when he was a baby and the colicky screams finally stopped. I gave him some medicine and fixed a snack. All he really wanted to do was lie on the couch with his head in my lap. I stroked his head, sweaty from the blankets, and told him I was pulling the hurt out with my fingers. We stayed like that for a bit, but then he tossed and flopped and sighed a bit.
"What do you need, sweetie?"
"I just wanna snuggle with you, Momma, in my bed."
So, I carried him to his room and laid down on his bed, stroking his forehead as he sucked his blanky. I was reading my book for awhile, but then he rolled over into me. His eyes closed, his hands grabbed each side of my neck and his breathing slowed. I just lay there. His face, in sleep and hurt, was just the same it always has been since the nurses handed him to me for the very first time. His ears are the same perfect whorled half circles. His hair line still is low over his forehead. His mouth and chin still full and stubborn. I lay there with his breath on my face and his hands on my neck. This is what parenthood is for me. Possession. I am his and he is mine.
I know that sounds terrible and someday, The Boy's significant other is going to read this and say, "SEE! I told you your mother is crazy!"
But it is true. My boys are part of me in a way that I can't even explain. They are mine, even as I see them going away from me, because I am theirs. They will get bigger than me. They will have hurts I can't fix with a snuggle. They will leave me. They will, I hope, start families of their own. But they will always hold onto me, hold onto the best part of me.