Even though I’m busy dropping sweet corn in the boiling water, from the eyes in the back of my head I see what’s going on, or more accurately, what’s not going on.
“Why are you standing on your chair instead of doing your homework?” I turn and calmly ask my 6 year-old who smiles mischievously, bounces a bit up and down, then with contrived indignity produces a sweaty looking blue crayon he’s clutching in his hand. “I am.”
Uh huh. I roll my eyes and go back to pressing my chicken cutlets into the egg, into the breadcrumbs, then into the pan.
“He’s not doing his homework.” My middle guy accuses. “Mommy, he’s not.” His affront is never mild. It’s always palpable.
“You just concentrate on doing yours.” I say. Dip. Press. Flip.
My oldest wanders in to take his place at the table but before he does, drifts over to me for a hug. He wraps his arms around my waist and I immediately respond to his warmth. He really is the sweetest boy. There aren’t that many almost 12 year-olds who love to linger in a hug with their mom.
We start to sway a bit and all of a sudden it feels like a dance. I have a flash of my husband and his mother at our wedding; his dark head bowed to her blonde one, just a mommy and her baby slowly moving together to Through the Years; a public hug before 200 guests for a private moment where a son leaves his mother and takes a wife.
So now I’m silently crying.
And of course, my middle son who notices everything from the non-existent speck of green in his pasta to the exact amount of minutes more of computer time his brother got than he did, wants to know why. “Mommy, you’re crying.”
“No I’m not.” I laugh. “I drank too much water, so now I’m leaking.”
My little guy giggles, “Mommy’s leaking!” and my oldest smiles sheepishly then pulls away. The dance is over, there’s homework to do and dinner to finish, but irrationally I don’t want it to end. Our time together seems suddenly shorter.
“You’re not leaking,” Accuses my middle son who is also the defender of truth and justice, “You’re crying. It’s true Mommy, say it. Say it!” How did a prosecutor get in my little boy’s body?
“Okay, okay. Fine. I was a little emotional.” Then I made the mistake of continuing. “You see, I was thinking about you guys and how fast you’re growing and when we were swaying it reminded me of…”
I looked at my boys. Not one of them was listening. They all amazingly had their heads down and were deep into their homework.
Huh. Note to self. You don’t matter.
“I’m hungry.” My oldest announced and my other boys piped in the backup chorus.
Okay, so I do matter. For now. For the next few years, they need me and love me, but before I know it, they will be grown starting lives and families of their own and I will be wondering where the years went; where my babies went.
“Dinner will be ready in ten minutes boys.” I assure them and pick up the pace.
Dip. Press. Flip.
I don’t ever want this dance to end.