It was the last day of his third full week of preschool, and he clung to my leg at drop-off. His little voice breaking my heart as he pleaded softly, “Mommy, I just want you.”
I walked step by step, his death grip still latched on to the inseam of my jeans, his little voice letting out the saddest little whine, my hands trying to pry him off so I could make my escape.
His teacher walked over, and crouched down, her hand outstretched to him, and she spoke to me.
“I hope you know that everything he does is all about ‘Mommy.’”
I crouched down on the floor, pulling him in to my lap, listening as she spoke.
“Every time he draws a picture, he says, ‘Look, it’s Mommy and me.’ Every time he drives in the play car he says, ‘I driving with Mommy.’ Everything he does is always about you. It’s so sweet.”
I pulled him in and kissed his head and thanked his teacher for telling me. I could feel the warmth of tears rushing to my eyes, so I moved him from my lap to a chair to color with his friends, and I made my quick escape to the car.
She had no idea how much I needed to hear those words.
Sometimes, life doesn’t turn out the way we planned. Our life certainly hasn’t. We went through a slew of very difficult situations, and we found ourselves left as just the two of us—a single mom and her son. We don’t have much. We don’t have a fancy home. We don’t have a large bank account to splurge on trips to the zoo, gymnastics lessons, or eating out regularly. We don’t have others to make us laugh or to sit down at the diner table with. We have each other, and for quite some time, I was broken by the fact that we weren’t more.
But even when life doesn’t go according to plan, and even when curveballs are thrown, and even when you face big life things like losses, relational breakdown, divorce, or other hardships, there’s a truth that takes a while to rear its head, but it’s a truth nevertheless.
There is beauty in it all.
The plan was never for it to be just the two of us, but that’s how life happened. There have been hard days, exhausting days, days when I was just counting the hours till bedtime, wine glass ready and in hand.
Those days will come and go, because those days are part of life.
But as our life is settling, and we’re falling into a rhythm, two people, a single mom and her boy, I am profoundly aware that these days I am in are some of the sweetest days of my life. They’re a gift, and I don’t want to miss them.
Because I have the privilege of being the one to sing Carrie Underwood songs (his favorite) at the top of my lungs in the car with him, his head nodding along in his car seat, his young voice still trying to find the melody.
Because I get to spend early mornings and late nights snuggled up with him in our pajamas, with books, with Thomas the Tank Engine, with toaster waffles and strawberries.
Because I get to be the one to wake up at 2 a.m. and spend half of every night sharing a twin bed when he’s scared, his little body, once tense and afraid, falling back to sleep in seconds when I am close by.
I get to be the one to tame his mess of morning hair, to crash cars together with him on the ugly teal carpet, and to be the one holding his hand in the pictures he draws.
With every day, I’ll get to be more and more, because I get to be his person, and he gets to be mine.
This may not be the life that was planned, but it’s what we’ve been given. It’s starting to feel like a new kind of beautiful, the kind that got a little broken and bruised along the way, but turns out to be a little bit perfect. The toaster-waffle, microwave-meal, dancing-in-circles-together-on-Saturday-mornings-to-his-favorite-songs kind of perfect. The beat-up, tattered kind of perfect that’s broken in just right, just like his favorite, ragged stuffed animal. It’s our kind, but’s it still beautiful, and it’s still a little perfect.
Because sometimes life doesn’t turn out the way we planned, and I’m learning that’s life’s way. We’ll make it beautiful anyway.