I bumped H’s forehead with my elbow today, and he cried his super sad cry. Maybe I surprised him or maybe I hurt him or maybe it was a little bit of both. I’m not sure. I swooped him up, holding him close as we walked away from the place we were sitting when the bump occurred.
I’m sorry sweet pea, I said. I bumped your head. Was it a surprise or an ouch or a little bit of both?
H cried, his face scrunched in sadness. I held him tight.
I know. You’re having big feelings. You’re upset. Maybe you’re in pain, I said.
I’m here. I’m with you. We’re in this together. I won’t leave you, I had told him when we were in the hospital. As we walked up the stairs, I thought about these words. I thought about his birth, about how he was taken away from me, about how I heard him cry for the first time from across the delivery room. I held him tighter.
I couldn’t hold him then, but I can now and so I do. I thought about how I won’t always be able to support the weight of his body in my arms. How I won’t always be able to soothe him simply by picking him up and pressing our hearts together.
Then I thought about the things I will always be able to do, the universe willing. I will always be able to sit with him through his experiences, no judgment or shaming or withholding comfort or leaving him alone. I will always be able help him, as best I can, learn about his feelings, that they are all okay, and that he is okay through all of them. I will always be able to hold space for him in my heart, even when he struggles to do so for himself. I will always be able to see him and have him in mind. He will never be alone.
I continued to hold H tight. I breathed deeply and rocked him in my arms. The feelings, whatever they were, cycled through him. He stopped crying. He looked at me, his face splotchy, tears pooling under his red-rimmed eyes. His smile was tentative, but it was there. The moment passed and with it the big feelings. There hadn’t been anything extra. Just me, H, his feelings, and love.