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I Very Tired

“Mommy, I very tired,” Sam said pitifully tonight.

“I know you are sweetie. That’s why we’re going to bed now,” I said smoothing down his unruly shock of glossy, nearly-black hair. He is looking quite dapper in his new Cars pajamas and matching backpack. Yes…I did say backpack, and if it means a quiet bedtime, it’s a small price to pay. He carefully catalogs each Mater and “Mike McQueen” figure (don’t even bother trying to convince him it’s “Lightning” instead) in his overcrowded arms, and entrusts a few to me, knowing that I will follow along behind and dutifully place them in his bed when he is ready for them.

He approaches his bed…first in a line of three…and begins the arduous task of clambering up. No help, please! Will and Tom are already snuggled under their covers, waiting for me to turn off the overhead lights — a task that can’t take place until Sam finally completes his nightly ritual.

He makes it to his pillow and his head is almost on it when he spies the orange no-spill cup on his night stand. “I need my Mike McQueen cup!” he insists. I sigh and feel all hope for a quick bedtime start to slip away.

“Honey, that one leaks. Remember? You put it in the sink  yourself, and we’ll have it for breakfast tomorrow. But for nighttime we have an orange one, o.k.?”

He considers this with a pouty frown, then concedes with a nod. “But I want a purple lid,” he demands.

“Deal!” I take his cup to go replace the lid, thinking to myself that I might actually get off easy after all.

“Purple cup!” he shouts after me. A small change, but a critical one.

I start to get a little nervous. Is the purple cup clean? I check the cabinet. No purple cup. But there is a purple lid I can scavenge from another sippy. I make the exchange and head back downstairs with fingers crossed.

“No! No! No!” he says when he spies the still orange cup in my hand.

“But look, baby. It has a purple lid! Just like you asked. The purple cup is dirty, but you can have the purple lid.”

He turns his face away from me on his pillow. “I very tired, Mommy.” He says again, even more plaintively now, as if he is resigned to a life of disappointment.

“I know you are baby. Would you like me to leave this cup here in case you might want it later?”

Wordlessly, he nods his assent, and heaves a heavy, world-weary sigh.

I bid him and his brothers good night, turn off the lights, and tiptoe up to my computer so I can jot down my memory of this beautiful, pouty, difficult boy before this phase passes into something new and different.

Some years from now, maybe on that last night before he leaves for college and the big, wide world that waits for him, will he think it strange when his dotty old mom presents him with a brand new backpack,  a beat up old toy car, and a shiny purple drinking cup to take with him on his journey?

I don’t think I understood before today, but motherhood is like attending a birth and funeral every moment of every day. Rejoicing at each new milestone, and  simultaneously mourning its passing. Feeling that your heart will either burst or break, and never being quite sure which will happen first.

It’s thrilling, and awful, and wonderful and…downright exhausting, come to think of it. You’ll have to excuse me now. I’m very tired, myself.

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Posted in Family & Relationships, Kids, Parenting.


4 Responses

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  1. Kimmy says

    Well put, my lady.

  2. bells says

    It’s true you know – constantly saying goodbye to moments. I’ve been watching my nephew for five years and at each lovely stage, I both mourn the old ones, and wonder how he can possibly be more beautiful than he is now. then the next stage comes and I’m more in love than before. And on and on it goes…..

  3. Mib says

    What a beautiful and completely true story you’ve given us. I have kids at both stages (1 freshman at Vanderbilt & 2 preschoolers), it is a journey! Enjoy yours while I enjoy your writing about it. :) – Mib

  4. jodi says

    Thanks Mib!! It all goes so fast, doesn’t it?



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