“I’ll love you forever.
I’ll like you for always.
As long as I’m living,
my baby you’ll be.”
I often quote the famous children’s book, Love You Forever, to both my boys when they are snuggled in and almost asleep.
I think all parents often look at their children and just wish for them to stop growing. For them to always be their “baby”. I loved those preschool years where I was their superhero, where I did nothing wrong, where there was no other Mom better than me on the entire planet, and where they knew that I could fix any problem they ran into.
Sure there are stages where we might wish for them to rush through, like those terrible threes or when that first hint of tween attitude shows it’s face. And yes, it’s so exciting to see them become their own person and participate in new activities and start to plan for their futures.
But nothing beats the snuggles and unfiltered love that they give when they are little and aren’t so affected by the societal norms around them.
Those snuggles get less and less with my oldest. Sure, at home, in the comfort of just having the four of us around, he continues to snuggle. He continues to express his love. And I think most of the time he still thinks I can fix most of his problems. But, we’re seeing it sneak in like when he asks me to just wait in the car when I pick him up from his school dance. Or the other day when he absentmindedly slipped his hand into mine in the grocery store parking lot and then quickly pulled it away when he realized we were in public.
That’s not happening with Brian. And I am not sure it will ever happen with Brian. He still happily holds my hand everywhere we go. He still asks me to pick him up, 75 pounds and growing, when he’s sad or overwhelmed. He still gives me a hug and a kiss at school drop-off. He runs into my arms at the end of the day (okay, sometimes he just barrels his path to the car so he can get home and have his hour of iPad time). He always snuggles in any time he catches me sitting down. And sometimes he’ll try to jump on to my back even when I’m walking around. He looks for me when anything is wrong and he asks for me when he’s sad or tired. In his eyes, there is no better Mom anywhere in the world, even when I tell him iPad time is over.
When he’s lying in my lap, all curled up like a cat, and it looks almost comical due to him not being much smaller than I, I brush his hair with my hand. I trace the lines of his cheek. I think about how perfect he is. And I whisper to him,
I’ll love you for always.
I’ll like you forever.
As long as I’m living,
my baby you’ll be.
There’s a different truth to this when I say it to him compared to his big brother. Though both boys will always be my baby (even if my oldest hates to be compared to a “baby”), there are physical and mental and emotional pieces of Brian that will truly always be my baby.
As his eleventh birthday is looming, I go through my cycle of emotions. The cycle that never ends despite the years and years of diagnosis, despite the progress and then the regressions and then the progress again.
I love him just the way he is. I am honored that I get to be his mother every single day. I love the snuggles and being his champion.
How is it possible that I cherish the fact that he’ll never push my physical affection away and that he’ll probably drown me in his continually for the rest of his life and at the same time wish that he would push me away? That he would be embarrassed by me.
That’s the cornerstone of special-needs parenting: being able to accept, love, cherish every single bit of your child while at the same time pushing and wishing for change, growth and progress.
It’s funny to wish for a day where your child would be “too cool” to give you a kiss goodbye. But I do. I wish for it, even while cherishing the affection and realizing how lucky I am to be loved by him.