He’s 5 and running at me.
“I just got home,” I think.
“Touch me, Mommy!” he screams. He wants a hug — at least I think that’s what he wants. I open my arms and bend down to his level. Aw man, that hurts, I think. My sore back reminds me I’ve been on my feet for 10 hours. He stops just short of me and grabs my hand.
“No, Mommy, no hug. Touch me,” he says with that you-should-have-known-this look on his face. I slowly stand, and he puts my hand on his head and presses down. I know I have to stand like this until he says he’s ready, but ready for what? To let me walk into the house? To let my hand go? To feel better? What does this make him ready for? I wonder as I stand there in my driveway with my hand on his head.
Soon he turns his head and looks at me, “OK, Mom, I’m ready!”
He runs for the house, and I call out behind him, “You’re welcome, Gav!” and I lower my voice and mumble to myself, “Thanks for the help, son,” as I grab the four grocery bags full of this week’s safe foods.
He’s 6 and running off the school bus screaming, “Bad day, Mom! Bad, bad day! Touch me!” I brace myself; this may hurt. He runs into me hard. Yup, I think. That hurt. He grabs my hands and says, “Hug tight, Mom!” I hug him, and he squeals in my ear, “No, Mom, not a love hug! Hug hard, Mom, now please!” I squeeze him until I feel him relax. I wait for him to say he’s ready, and I think Ready for what? To talk about his bad day? To give mom a love hug? What does this make him ready for? Soon he says, ” OK, Mom, I’m ready! “
He’s 7 and I’m awakened by his screams “Mommy, help me! Mommy, I need you now! Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, come fast!” I run to him, scared to death, my husband’s right on my heels. “Mommy, Daddy, someone help!” he screams. I open his door thinking something bad is happening to my baby. He looks at me, tears running down his face. “Mommy, I’m scared and it hurts! Daddy, can I sleep with you? It hurts!” We gather him up and head for our room, asking, “What hurts, baby? Are you sick? Tell Mommy what hurts so I can make it go away, sweetie.” He rubs his face on my T-shirt, leaving his tears behind. “I need you to touch my feet, Mommy, they hurt. I need you to touch my back, Daddy, it hurts.” I tell him he needs a drink so he can calm down, and Daddy gets him soon juice. We’re in my bed, Dad’s rubbing his back, I’m rubbing his foot. He smiles at us and says, “OK, Mom, OK, Dad, I’m ready! ” Then he drifts of to sleep. I wonder, Ready for what? Ready to sleep? Ready to let us sleep? Ready for what?
He’s 8, and he’s crying. I go in the living room. “What’s wrong, baby boy? ” I ask. He says, “Mom where is Dad? I need him now! “I go back in the kitchen and tell my husband, “He needs you.” I go back to cooking. I hear them taking; he wants his back rubbed. My husband comes back to the kitchen, “OK, baby, he’s ready now,” he says as he grabs a potato to peel. I wonder, Ready for what? Ready to play? Ready to eat? Ready to take a nap? Ready for what?
He’s 9, and I’m doing laundry. I hear him say, “OK, Daddy, I’m ready! ” I see him dart past the laundry room and into the bathroom. I ask, “Are you and Dad going outside?” He looks at me funny and says, “No, Mommy, why?” “Oh, I just heard you say you’re ready, so I thought you were going to play in the yard.” His answer stops me in my tracks.
“Oh, Mom, you’re so silly.” He laughs. “I told dad I’m ready because I need him to squeeze me and he did.” He smiles. “I said I’m ready because the pain goes away and now I’m ready to be in the world, Mom.” He’s still smiling. “Can I go play cars now,” Mom?” I just nod because I couldn’t find my words at all.
“Ready, Mom.” I hear it a million times a day. “Ready, Mom,” but now I know what it means to him.
It means, “Thanks, Mom, the pain is gone.”
It means, “Thanks, Dad, I can face the world now.”
It means, “I can do this now.”
It means,”You helped me, and now I got this.”
It means… a lot more than I thought.
I’ll never get tired of hearing it. OK, I’m ready, too.
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