Sometimes, I rock him longer than I need to. A 20 pound body wraps around my chest and shoulders and neck, his head of hair underneath my chin, a hand fingering my necklace, the other gripping the back of my shirt as if to say, “Stay, Mom. I like it here.” The instant he begins to fall asleep, his body temperature rises and I feel the heat on my chest, my cheek, resting close to him. We sway back and forth, the fan blowing away all outside noises and interference so that it is just us – mom and son.

Mary had these kind of moments, I am sure of it – the Messiah’s fingers fiddling with her hair, his body light enough to be held with one arm. Can you imagine him running around after a bath, giddy and free, his new-found balance propelling him awkwardly across the room, Frankenstein arms out, prepared to tumble? Yesterday after Elvis’s bath, I let him loose in just a diaper, turned the corner to the hallway and found him admiring himself in the mirror, giving his reflection kisses. I asked for a kiss and he tried to kiss the image of me. Damp fog remained where his lips had landed.

I missed the quiet moments like this at birth with Elvis. Whisked away to incubators and intubation, monitors and IVs, I didn’t hold my son until day four, and then it was to lift his limp, sedated body so the nurse could change his blankets. How heavy he seemed then, even though he was only 7 pounds 13 ounces, resting warmly in my hands. And then finally I could lay that tiny body on me, feel his breathing, the scratch of his tiny fingernails on my skin.

Now he’s one and waddles over when I come home, laughing and clucking like a duckling, arms outstretched to hug me. And sometimes at night, I rock him longer than I really need to, hold him close and listen to that breathing. Something in me knows that this will only last a little longer. These are the sort of moments Mary stored away in her heart, the sort of moments that have to be treasured. The future is mysterious and complicated, it’s out of our hands, and the past testifies to who’s really in control.

Published by Sarah M. Wells

Sarah M. Wells is the author of The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Gospels to Help Kids and Parents Love God and Love Others (2022), American Honey: A Field Guide to Resisting Temptation (2021), Between the Heron and the Moss (2020), The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Bible to Help Kids and Parents Engage and Love Scripture (2018), Pruning Burning Bushes (2012), and a chapbook of poems, Acquiesce, winner of the 2008 Starting Gate Award through Finishing Line Press (2009). Sarah's work has been honored with four Pushcart Prize nominations, and her essays have appeared in the notable essays list in the Best American Essays 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018. Sarah is the recipient of a 2018 Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. She resides in Ashland, Ohio with her husband and three children.

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