â€œWhere is my mommy stone?â€ He asks, upper lip quivering. It is bed time. Iâ€™ve come to say good night. Then he says, â€œI love you and I missed you.â€ He says this often, the latter almost automatically following the former; but itâ€™s also something that must reflect the hunger his little self feels for mommy time. Iâ€™m not always available the way I could beâ€”if I were wholly and exclusively focused on being his mother. Selfishly, I take time for me often. I write, I run, I forfeit controlling the circumstance of his days in exchange for time to do my own things.
Now weâ€™re in the semi dark. Heâ€™s talking about the small stone I gave him when I went back to work this year. I told him it was a Mommy Stone with kisses in it, to rub on his cheek if he missed me. I donâ€™t know why heâ€™s suddenly thought of it tonight, and seeing him, upper lip trembling, I want to make everything immediately okay.
â€œIâ€™ll find you another mommy stone and put kisses in it and have it ready for you in the morning,â€ I rush to offer.
â€œBut how can I see the kisses? How do they get in there?â€ He is earnest, almost crying, and suddenly Iâ€™m over come too. I wrap him in the dark, kissing his cheeks a hundred times, tears suddenly, unexpectedly wet on my cheeks. â€œYou canâ€™t see them, you can feel them when you rub the Mommy stone on your cheek. Because I love you, and I put the kisses in there just for you,â€ I say.
â€œOkay,â€ he says, and then â€œI love you, I love you mommy.â€
â€œI love you too, with my whole heart,â€ I whisper into the air against his cheek.
â€œI love you, I love you,â€ he says, his arms wrapped around my neck.