I hadn't planned on writing this post today. I was planning on using my lunch-break to edit some photos and change some more addresses since the move. But I don't want to do that. They seem like bizarre things to do right now. Silly things.
I want to write something for someone who I have watched go through the hardest experience any mother could. I want to write this for Jennie.
Just over two weeks ago, she lost her beautiful daughter. I don't say beautiful for the need of an adjective. Matilda Mae was possibly one of the most beautiful babies I have ever seen. I'd watched Jennie and her family grow. I'd seen how much love there was.
But then she was taken from her mother's arms, and instead watches over her family from the sky.
My heart has broken over and over again for Jennie and her family. I have cried. I have led a solemn two weeks, because I can't bear the thought of a mother feeling the pain that Jennie is feeling. That countless mothers are feeling.
It made me realise - our children aren't ever ours to keep. We are watchers. We are carers. But we don't own our child. We can't keep them forever.
I'm lucky to be the mother to my son. I'm lucky to call him my own. For now. He's not for keeps.
There are times, in our lives, where I will have to let him stretch away from me. He's already doing it now. He can push me away if I become too boring, or chasing the dog around the room in an awkward crawl seems too much of a temptation. He isn't with me every day. I can't touch him now. I can't whisper "I love you baby boy." Or stroke his hair.
At night, I tiptoe in, cursing the creaky door, which I remind myself to constantly fix. And as soon as I enter the room I breathe in that baby smell and I'm intoxicated by it. I creep to his cot and I watch. I try so hard not to stroke his fair hair, and I always fail. I can't resist him. I'm so in love. But it's a love he won't understand until he's has a child to call his son or daughter.
But there will be a time, when he grows up, when he doesn't need me as much, that I won't be able to do that anymore. My 18 year-old son, won't want to stir finding his mother watching over him. Can you imagine? Oh how he'd hate that!
I can't protect him from the knocks. The scrapes.
I can't protect him from harsh words. The bullies of life. The harshness of life. The ultimate end of life.
I can't change the past. I can't write the future.
I've already given him the gift of the present.
I can't really do anything more than guide him. Watch him. Love him.
In truth, I'm not sure what I'm trying to say. I think it's that, our babies will always be our babies, but they can't be wrapped up. They can't be kept safe, like china figurines in a locked cabinet. Or warm hens eggs nestled in straw.
A life in bubble-wrap. A life in cotton wool.
It isn't a life we'd choose for our children, even though we'd like to keep them on baby reins forever.
No parent can stop the inevitable We aren't gods. We don't have power. We just have a lot of love. And sometimes, that's not enough.
I know mothers who have lost their children. Some barely born. Some young. Some grown.
A child is grown from a mother. They take a part of us with them, when they are born. They will always be linked to us. We are always missing something without them. Perhaps it's why we need to be so near.
They will always be a part of us. Not owned. But shared.
Every night. As I watch my little boy learn and grow. I feel his little fingers pinch my cheek. Or watch him knead my chest as he feeds. I'll remember to cherish the moments where he's still mine.
I gave my son to the world. He'll touch a lot of hearts along the way. Just like Matilda Mae. But he's not mine to keep. He's his own.
God bless all the mothers with empty arms and aching hearts. God bless all the little angels who were meant for more than this.
I'm not sure how far my belief in God stretches. But I do believe in this: "And remember, a truth that once was spoken - to love another person is to see the face of God."
And that face? It's beautiful.