Natalie is a Harvard lawyer turned work-at-home mom. She lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband, three-year old son, baby girl, and two terrible terriers. She shares the adventures of her journey home at Life on the Mama Track.
His arms wrapped around my neck.
And tears welled in his eyes.
“Mama, I need you to stay. Something keeps coming in my room at night.”
My heart, in that instance, skipped a beat.
And then it pulled.
As I recovered, I knew his fear was nothing more this his imagination.
He is my oldest.
And he is three.
We are approaching, have perhaps reached, the age of monsters and magic and “Stay Safe Spray.”
The age of “let’s pretend” and imagination.
The age of intangible fears.
I pulled him closer, breathing in the smell of freshly shampooed hair and clean pajamas.
I was supposed to leave.
I had told him it was time.
And I could feel the clock ticking, the minutes passing.
The demands building.
Like every mother, I depend on the evening hours to work, to think, to breathe.
My to-do list called.
But not as loudly as his need.
And my love.
For his whole life, he has felt safe and comfortable.
He has never known fear or apprehension.
Never worried about the things that go bump in the night
There is something humbling about the day your child learns to fear the world.
The world, of course, is full of dangers.
It has been all along.
And I have always done, and will always try, my best to keep him safe.
To shield him, in every way possible.
Nothing in that regard has changed.
But now he suspects that danger lurks.
And believes, really believes, that a parent’s presence will fend off any problem.
So I stayed with him, as the precious minutes of my quiet time waned.
I lay there, in the dark, my head on a pillow next to his.
A soft blanket, covered in trains, pulled over us.
A light blue elephant, resting in his hand.
In that moment, he felt secure.
“Don’t go,” he whispered.
His eyes were heavy.
Throughout his life, I will be unable to protect him from most of the obstacles he will face.
Soon, his path will be his own.
The challenges, his alone to face.
But, for now at least, I can walk with him.
Or, as the case may be, lie next to him.
I can battle the monsters in his dreams.
The fear in his heart.
The danger in his mind.
And that’s something.
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