Time Alone with my Little Boy

Aug 21, 2009

Years ago, before I was married, I met a mom of two grown children. She shared with me how, with her first son, she took a ton of photos and made sure his baby book was all complete. Regretfully, though, she said that her second child, a daughter, had very few photos from her childhood. And, when it came to a baby book . . . well, she hadn’t even ever started one.

Right then, I decided that if I had multiple children, I would not be like that. No, all of my children would have lots of photos taken of each of them, both professional ones and candids. They would have photos of themselves with their siblings, but also pictures of them alone and, more importantly, alone with us. I did not want any of my kids to ever feel cheated or left out, as if their siblings were, in some way, more important than they were in my eyes.

So, here I am, three kids down the road and I have to say, patting myself on the back, that I have done a pretty good job keeping that promise I made to myself. I take each of my kids to have professional photos done quite regularly. We go for each of their birthdays, have photos taken of each of them in their Halloween costumes and sometimes, just for fun, I’ll have individual photos taken of all the kids. I also always have my camera with me. I make a conscious effort to ensure that that baby has as many shots of him learning to crawl, and then walk, as there are in my oldest daughter’s album. And as for baby books . . . all three of my children have them, in various stages of completion. At this task, I have been determined to not fail.

I must admit, until recently, I have been pretty proud of myself and how I have handled the “fair” issue with all of my kids. I see minimal jealousy between any of them and, to be frank, have attributed that fact to the way my husband and I have treated and respected each of them and their individual personalities.

But what’s that they say about pride coming before a nose dive?

Yesterday, I received one of those phone calls every parent dreads. My 3-year-old son, Bennett, was sick at school and, could I please come get him? Sadly, I got in the car and drove to pick him up – and his brother, too. I was able to get a doctor’s appointment for later that afternoon and my parents graciously offered to stay with the two other kids so that I didn’t have to drag the whole circus along with me.

As I loaded Bennett in the car for our trip to see the doctor, he said, “Where’s Jordan? Where’s Baby Mac?”

“They’re staying with Grandma and Grandpa,” I said. “We’re going to the doctor.”

He looked at me, with an expression of complete confusion and said, “Just us?”

“Yes, honey,” I said. “Just us,” and I jumped in the front seat.

My first thought was to smile at how cute he sounded when he realized we were going alone. But, as I drove to the doctor’s office, and occasionally glanced back at him, I began to really think about the situation. “When was the last time Bennett and I were alone together in the car? For that matter, when was the last time we did anything alone together?”

To be honest, and I’m almost embarrassed to admit it, the answer to that question would probably be “a little over a year ago.” The baby is just about 15 months old and since the day he came home from the hospital, I can’t really remember a time when Bennett and I didn’t have company on our journeys.

After all, whenever I take Bennett to school, even before Maclain attended preschool there, the baby has always been with us on the drive. If we have a doctor’s appointment, at least two of my kids go together. And, sadly, if I have to take one child to the grocery store, or to run errands, with me (because my husband doesn’t want to be left home with all three), Bennett is never the one I choose. Not to be callous, but let’s admit it, until last month, he was two . . . and now, he’s three . . . which, in ways, is even worse. It’s much easier to grab the baby, or better yet, my 6-year-old daughter who can get in and out of the car by herself. But, Bennett . . . he’s not always so easy to have tagging along.

Thus, when Bennett said, “Just us?” he was sincerely startled. He was getting time alone with his Mommy and the fact that the news of that shocked him made me very, very sad.

Because, even though he and I aren’t “out and about” alone much, I do try to spend quality one-on-one time with each of my kids at home. We play games, we have our own unique bedtime rituals, we do crafts. But, I realized sorrowfully as I drove to that doctor’s appointment, somehow I’ve been failing Bennett. He hasn’t been getting the time alone that he needs with his mom and, because I’ve been so busy being proud of myself that he has photos of himself . . . or even photos of him alone with me . . . I didn’t recognize that what he wanted was actual time with me . . . not a photo making it look like that time really existed.

We had a good hour or so at that doctor’s office (despite the double ear infections). We sang songs as we waited for the doctor to come in, he danced a little for me, we talked about what the blood pressure machine does . . . and he spent a lot of time sitting on my lap.

On our way home, I said to him, “After dinner, you, me, Jordan and Maclain will go back out and get your medicine, okay?”

“No,” he said. “Just us. Not them. Just you and me.”

I wish I could have said, “okay,” but because Rob was working, I knew I’d have to bring everyone along on the trip.

“Not this time, sweetie. But soon. I promise. It’ll be just you and me again.”

And, I meant it. Very soon, he and I will do something very special . . . and it will be just me and my precious little boy, because he deserves more than an album full of photos when he grows up. He deserves a lifetime full of memories.


Natalie Fairman said...

Love it. Such a sincere reflection...

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