The day had gotten away from us, and suddenly it was late – 10:30 and the end of a busy day.
We stood together brushing our teeth, my son and I, both gazing in the mirror with sleep-hungry eyes.
It was bedtime.
It was ritual and rhythm and everyday mundane.
As he stood in front of me I noticed, surprised, that he reaches so far beyond my chin. My eyes grazed the top of his head toward our reflection in the mirror.
I wrapped my arm around his chest and gave him a squeeze, testing. He didn't pull away but leaned in, so I left my arm there while we brushed.
I'm learning the new boundaries. And adapting to them with grace. But sometimes I miss the boundless affection of early childhood.
I shift and grow and count this leaning in as measure of our closeness.
How many times had we done this before? Brushing together, readying for bed.
Mother and child, suspended in the mundane rituals of life.
First him in the sling, toothless but aware, me in the same pajamas I'd worn constantly for three days and counting.
Next him with tiny teeth, the top pair cutting first, unexpectedly, after the wheelbarrow incident. I called him "bunny" when this ritual began, me brushing his two new teeth each night before sleep.
I remember him standing, mouth open wide, wild blond curls around his ears, wearing floral pink polyester footie pajamas that he chose himself from the thrift store.
As he grew I remember making up brushing songs to get him to keep still long enough for me to finish. He would lie back on the tile floor as I pretended the toothbrush was a backhoe and his teeth were a construction site, his blue eyes sparkling.
Two teeth. Then four. Then a mouthful.
And soon he was big enough to brush himself, with checking, then without.
Night after night in a seemingly endless string stretching out into forever.
But it's not forever. It's finite.
Because here we were, thousands of nights into our journey, my eyes just clearing his head to see us in the mirror.
It won't be long now.
And I thought –
I'm thankful I wasn't born a bird.
Because almost thirteen years with this child? It is far from enough.
What if we had only a season?
Then, I suppose, we would truly savor.
Savor each brief moment before our fledglings fly.
And so I will.
I will savor. And be grateful.
Because we get scores more time with our children than most.
And for that I am so grateful.
Yet still somehow, I feel the time we have could never be enough.