It was the Summer my little boy and I were getting to know each other.
I had taken his big, powerfully strong Daddy from him the year before, and he had been a shaky little guy ever since.
This is Daddy’s house!! he used to scream at me. GET OUT! GET OUT OF HERE! THIS IS DADDY’S HOUSE! I DON’T WANT YOU HERE! DON’T TOUCH ME!!
He crumbled into himself in the corner, forbidding me to touch him while trying to understand why Daddy was gone and why all he had left was his bumbling, frightened mother, wracked with wadded up guilt too thick and dry to swallow.
He was right. It was Daddy’s house.
For all the years of my marriage, I had done everything I could to stay away from that house, from that home and all it represented.
All the while Daddy cooked and cleaned and picked the kids up from school and did the laundry. He sliced their apples and brushed their teeth. And then he tucked his babies into bed, and crawled in next to them and slept snoring softly between them, knowing his babies were safe.
And they were safe.
And then Daddy was gone, and frazzled, skittish Mommy was all they had left. Sometimes with her brave face on. Sometimes not.
It was the Summer my little boy and I were getting to know each other. And I’d taken them out of that house, to the beach down in Mexico.
My fearless girl tore off into the waves, but my little boy held back. The pull of the tide on the sand beneath his toes frightened him, as did the fierce power of the waves crashing to shore.
Please, I begged. Please, let me show you what it is to be in the ocean. What if I hold you, and I promise never to let you go. What if I hold you up high and promise not to go in too deep, so that only your tushy gets a playful little slap of the wave – like this: pat, pat, pat.
He let me.
Slowly we went into the water, my baby climbing my ribs to stay dry.
And then he was enthralled.
He squealed with excitement each time a wave would come toward us, and clenched me tightly with his arms around my neck and his ankles locked around my torso.
He never tired of it. And neither did I.
And when the day began to come to an end, he pressed his sun-warmed, sandy cheek against my chest and whispered, You’re uh awesome mom. You’re like fudge to me.
And I knew that I had done well.
And that everything – and everyone – was going to be okay.