By: Shannon Ralph
They always get you when you least expect it. When you are minding your own business, trudging through the day. After precious hours spent yelling and begging and lecturing your children, they can still astound you. They swoop in when you should feel nothing but disdain for them. When you are vulnerable and emotionally spent. After they have pushed you to the edge of sanity for the 854th time that day, they offer you a look or a word or a phrase that changes it all. In a matter of mere seconds, your frustration melts away and you are swept up in a deluge of awe and utter devotion. The emotion can be overwhelming. Yesterday, I experienced just such a moment.
I caught Lucas standing in front of the bathroom mirror preening and smiling at himself. We had just picked up his new glasses earlier that afternoon and he was obviously admiring his new look. I walked into the bathroom and grabbed a comb to try to do something about his bed head prior to heading out to his 3rd grade orientation. I quickly ran the comb through his insanely thick mop of hair and started to walk out of the bathroom. As I walked by, he grabbed my arm and said, “Momma, stand beside me so I can see us both.” My initial instinct was to brush him off. To tell him I was too busy to stand idly looking in the mirror with him. But something in his tone struck me, so I stood beside him.
I looked in the mirror as Lucas’s reflection smiled back at me. My baby boy who was no longer a baby. My handsome young man who would soon enough be taller than I am. Third grade. Is he really in third grade already? I noticed the blueness of his eyes. Eyes that did not belong to my side of the family. Dimples that lit up his face. His other mother’s dimples. His strong chin and pale skin. His big ears. The ears that belonged to his uncle, his mother’s “born-again” brother who wanted nothing to do with this child of lesbians. As I looked at his face, I saw none of my own family staring back at me. He was a genetic stranger.
I stood there pondering the mysteries of love and relationship. As I did, I had a flashback of bathing Lucas in the tiny house we lived in when he was a baby. Every time I would take him out of the bath tub, I would wrap him in a thick towel and hold him in front of the bathroom mirror. Lucas would giggle at his reflection as I bounced him up and down and told him what a pretty boy he was. “Momma’s pretty boy,” I would sing to him. I would cuddle him tightly as he fell asleep on my chest. Kiss his wispy blonde hair. Read to him book after book after book, trying to infuse into him a love of reading. A tiny grain —just an infinitesimal speck— of who I am. Willing him to be like me in some miniscule way. To be my baby boy.
While envisioning my sweet, flaxen-haired little baby, Lucas reached up and put his arm around my neck. I was startled back to the present. Lucas pulled my head down and leaned his forehead against my own. He smiled his huge dimpled grin. And he said, “We sure do look good together, don’t we, Momma?”
Yes, my baby boy. We look pretty damn amazing together.