This summer one of my sons is lifeguarding. He asks me to coat him in sunscreen before he takes off for work and I happily oblige. Every now and again one of the three guys will ask me to pluck between their eyebrows so they don't have a unibrow. I delight in it. Just a bit ago one of them asked me to clean up the facial hair he's trying to grow...like neaten up the edges with a razor. I felt like I won the lottery.
So I was thinking about the weirdness of how much I like doing those kinds of things and it came to me: these guys were my babies. For their infancy and toddlerhood I had my hands all over them caregiving for them. Changing diapers, feeding them, helping them dress, wiping their hineys, and washing their hair.
Then it came to a screeching halt. Done. Over. It became a hug or a kiss hello or goodnight, but all that hands-on stuff was finished. They could take care of themselves, and they did. They were separating themselves from their Mama and becoming individuals. It's the natural order of things.
So now they are these grown-men looking boys, and the silly grooming tasks they ask me to do serve as a little reconnection to the infants they once were. It allows me to care for them in a way that I didn't realize I missed. They were my babies. I did all I could for them.
Oh, that feeling of a baby asleep on my chest, of having an entire being in my hands! My heart was just bursting with affection for them, but truth be told a good bit of the joy of it was muted by fatigue or the to-do list.
Now somehow coating my son's shoulders in sunscreen serves as a beautiful reminder of how much they needed me, and all those joyful hands-on moments I spent caring for them. It takes me to a special place and time, and in some ways I feel more fully present there now than I was able to be back then.
Each son is now at least 6 feet tall. They are boys in men's bodies. I love their independence and how they get on in the world, but I'm touched that sometimes they recognize that they want help. I like that they are comfortable enough with themselves to let me in a little bit.
As they continue to mature I hope they know that while I've always stressed being kind and loving to others, it's also a beautiful thing as an individual to allow someone else to care for you.