From the 5-year-old a few night ago:
Him: [In bed, blushing] I have an idea!
Me: [in doorway] Oh, yeah?
Him: Come here.
I go and sit next to him and he wraps his arms around me, using his super-human strength (really, he is oddly strong) to pull my ear to his lips.
Him: [whispering] Let’s get married.
Now – let me tell you – I am NOT a sucker for proposals. Weddings are pretty, proposals are sweet, but in general, they’re not the key to my girly heart. But this? Oh, dear Lord. My heart races. I pull back to look into his expectant green eyes.
Me: That sounds so fun. But the thing is, you can’t marry anyone in your family.
Him: [still clinging to hope] You mean because you’re already married? [I nod] Well, you could just break up with Daddy.
I didn’t even know the kid had heard the words break up before, and yet here it is, the Greek tragedy being played out on car and truck sheets.
Me: But I love Daddy. And – you will meet someone you love so much that you want to marry them.
Him: A boy or a girl?
Him: But not you…
I shake my head and wrap him in my arms. He understood when I talked about about families and genetics and growing independent and while I could see acceptance creep over him, I also felt a profound sense of loss – for both of us. For doing my job right and his job, it means breaking apart and walking away. I sat on the bed a while longer, rubbing his small back, his squishy still toddler-like fingers on my knee.
Him: [whispering] But if you could, if it was okay, could I live with you?
I could joke and tell him he’d never want to live with me and his girlfriend or boyfriend would be aghast and someday I’ll annoy him too much to even live in the same town, and in 20 years he’ll want me for my laundry skills only, but I don’t. Because right now, in this nightlighted room, what he needs to know is that I am as committed to him as I could be.
We don’t need a ring, I tell him, because nothing could change how much I love you or you love me.
This settles him and we sit there, with the broken clock in him room blinking a time that don’t exist, a time now and in the future, a forever space in which we can always be together.