The house was quiet, and I had just drifted off to sleep.
Blissful, peaceful, deep sleep.
The panicked cry of our 3-year-old was 8 inches from my face.
“My tumm-eeeeeeeeeeeee!” His cries alternated to screams, as my body bolted out of bed and carefully ushered him to our toilet. I was completely calm. I crouched behind him as his body heaved. A young little guy, he was terrified of the yuck leaving his mouth.
“Just keep your head over the toilet,” I said calmly. “Oh, good job, Sweetheart. You got it right in there.”
When he finished, the tears continued to flow as he turned his face into my chest and balled, confused and scared.
And so, I sat there. On the floor of our bathroom. 10:07pm.
I was exhausted, having been up since midnight the night before (another bout of pregnancy insomnia).
It was 3 days before Christmas, and I had lots to do.
But I didn’t think of any of that.
In fact, I didn’t think at all.
I closed my eyes and focused on my fingers as they ran up and down his back. Just light enough to feel like feathers going up his spine.
Not too heavy, or it will tickle him.
Up and down, up and down.
I knew exactly what to do.
And, it was in that moment that I realized something.
There is no substitute for me.
He didn’t look at me, but from his tight hug and slowly subsiding cries, I knew.
I am a place to my son.
The place he feels the most secure during the most terrifying moments in his little life.
And in this moment, the one and only place he wanted to be.
Without words, it was as if he said, “Only you, Mom. You’re the only one.”
Only you know how to apply the perfect amount of pressure when your fingers feather my back.
Only you know that I need a sippy cup of ice water right now. (Just 2 or 3 ice cubes, no more.)
Only you know that I need a change of pants and my cousin’s hand-me-downs are just the thing to make me feel comforted.
Only you knew I wasn’t feeling well all day. Your soft fingertips alone sensed my fever, even though it was only 3 degrees different than normal.
Only you know that I want my pillow and cuddle, and I don’t want to go back to my bed.
Only you can create the perfect place for me on the living room couch. You laid out our softest white fleece blankets, and they enveloped me. Only you can do it just right.
Only you can make me feel relaxed enough to lay my head on my pillow. And then, only you will pray aloud over me, asking Jesus to help Sullivan’s tummy feel better.
Only you will be there as I let my limp eyelids fall over my eyes.
Only you will hold my hand and caress my arm as I enter Dreamland.
Only you will sit for 10 more minutes to gaze at my peaceful, sleeping face.
Only you will smile as you watch the glowing lights of our Christmas tree make my flushed cheeks look even softer and more beautiful than normal. You want to take a picture, but instead, you’ll frame this image in your memory. A camera would interrupt this sacred moment, and I am much too cherished, special and vulnerable to be photographed right now.
Only you will tuck a few of my strawberry curls behind my right ear.
And, only you will pray for me, silently, as I dream.
You are the only one.
(And Mom, only you will be catching this nasty bug tomorrow. But don’t worry. I will return the favor and lay in bed with you all day.)