Living In The Gravy

From a journal entry written 22 years ago:

“At a time when most of my peers are sending their youngest children to middle school, I’m raising a four-year-old. While these friends can crawl back into bed on a fall morning or zip to work after helping adolescents out the door, I serve up Pop-Tarts and watch Nickelodeon with Alex. I don’t particularly like being awake early, but I do enjoy my little boy and I think the feeling is mutual.

“He’s full of joy and breathes new life into my world of complacent teenagers. When I walk in the door after a trip to the grocery store, he yells, “You’re back! My Mommy is back!’ I’m gobbled up in his enthusiasm and feel kissed by the gods when he throws his sticky little arms around my neck.

“His scent, his look and his personality linger with me emotionally and physically as I go from room to room. He likes to know where I am. I like that someone cares if I’m in the laundry room or the bedroom and would prefer to be where I am.

“It’s fun and easy to make him laugh. He’s always had a deep down, clear-to-the-bottom-of-his-soul kind of laugh. He’s a great audience for strange faces and cartoon-like voices I dream up — things my older kids don’t think are funny anymore.

“I get him to spend a rare moment in my arms when I feign tears. He moves so fast that at times I resort to such measures just to have the chance to hold him. If he laughs easily, he comes to a boil just as fast. He is never just a little miffed at anything.. he is all or nothing. It makes for a bumpy ride at times, but it’s never boring.

“I love that he’s four years old and already plays Nintendo better than I do. I love that his drawings of people at times have two noses or six legs and that to him this is perfectly acceptable. I love it when he sits down, crosses his legs in an adult manner and says he wants to have a little chat with me. I even love it when he gets into the bathroom, discovers he doesn’t have to be there after all and then yells to no one in particular, “It’s not working!”

“I think I have the best of both worlds. I get to see the softer side of older children when he runs into the room and jumps on them. They learn to include him and be patient. He learns, in turn, that the world doesn’t revolve around him, even though he wishes it did. I get new drivers, high school graduations, soccer and baseball games. Plus, I get Sesame Street, kisses on the mouth and size four boxer shorts.

“Sometimes I get incredulous looks from people my age whose children are older, and occasionally, even remarks about my level of intelligence. This used to annoy me. But I’ll bet you a peanut butter sandwich there’s not one of them that wouldn’t love, for just one minute, to once again be the center of someone’s universe.”