“So what do you have at home?” she asked matter-of-factly, eyes never leaving the screen.
I turned my head from where I had been watching her roll the wand across my basketball-sized belly to smile at your daddy. Shifted on the uncomfortable table so I could see him better. He smiled at me too. “Two girls,” we answered her at the same time.
“Well,” and she allowed the faintest hint of a smile, “You’re about to see some anatomy you haven’t seen on your other kids.”
And that was it. That was when we knew you’d be different from what we’d known before. That was when I carried you, and I imagined…
Basketballs, footballs, soccer balls…
Muddy shoes with a face to match
A big eater with a big, loud yell
A big boy with a purpose and a plan.
After all, isn’t that what boys are supposed to be? Frogs and snails and puppy dog tails and all that?
My sweet friend gave me a little sign to hang in your room, “Boy: a noise with dirt on it.” I put it in your closet to hang up when you came. When I carried you, I fully expected the prophecy to come true. Because how could I have known:
That you would be my only baby to have complications during labor, your heart rate slowed by contractions; that we would have a dangerous 24 hours together in that hospital bed, you and I… you, my gentlest baby, even in birth.
How could I have known that you, our only boy, would weigh in at just six pounds four ounces, the smallest of our three.
That you would be my longest nursling, not weaning until 20 months.
How could I have known that you’d be the latest walker in our family… the latest talker… The one to listen, watch, notice before you act.
That you’d be my pickiest eater… that you’d pick at your food like you do your toys, looking them over to see which is best, choosing carefully everything you do.
How could I have known that you’d be the only child I’ve ever seen to cry at the word, “No”… that at just that simple word from your daddy or me, no matter how gently spoken, your eyes would well up with crocodile tears, your lips would quiver, you’d get this look on your face to melt a mama’s heart.
I brought the little sign with us when we moved. Noise with dirt on it. Thinking it might suit you later. Yet still it sits in the box on the shelf. Because you’re not quite there yet, dear. And everyone who meets you knows. You see, when people meet you, they know…
And they say things like, “What a sweet baby,” or “What a quiet boy,” or “He must be your mellow child!”
We remark over your sweetness while watching your sisters wrestle ten feet away.
I smile and nod when I pick you up from Sunday school… “Yes,” I tell them. “He is my sweet boy.” And you cling to me, proving my point, over the noise of your sisters running and racing each other in the hallway. I watch them like the mother hen I am, making sure no one does any permanent damage.
In her stirringly beautiful novel “Little Women,” Louisa May Alcott has her character Marmee say, “Young girls are no different than boys in their need for exertion.” I’ve found this to be true with your sisters—and if it is true—doesn’t it stand to reason that boys need just as much nurturing as girls? Doesn’t it stand to reason that you may need the attention, the pouring-in, the listening ear, of your parents just like your sisters?
I know it’s true for you, my dear. Is it because you’re the youngest? Is it because we’ve moved so far from “home” that you need me so? Or is your sweet temperament just part of the way God made you? Maybe it’s a little bit of all those things. Whatever the reason… I’m glad.
I’m glad when you follow me in the kitchen, begging to be held, clinging to my knee. I’m glad when you bring me a book and plop yourself on my lap. You can’t yet form the words, “Carry me.” But you say it with your face, you say it with your hands lifting up, you say it with your big brown eyes.
I’m glad when we’re at the park and instead of running away, you come to sit beside me. When you sit with me, you’re content. I breathe a deep sigh and I’m content, too. Content to see your sensitive soul, your soft heart, and those gentle eyes.
Because I know…
I know in time you may look the description of a rough-and-tumble boy. And I’ll be there to wash your uniforms, to cook big meals for my growing boy, to patch up your knees.
Because I know
The time will come, and you will grow
You’ll let go.
But until then…
I’ll sit beside you, content.
Until then, I’ll carry you.