He was sweet and little and cozy as he sat on his bed in his T. Rex PJs waiting for my response. His repeated asking of the question broke my heart. It encapsulated perfectly how my four year old interpreted the events of the past week. “Mama are you happy with me?”, he asked again.
All week long had been filled with doctor visits and trips to the ER. I was exhausted and worn out. My very supportive friends and family had repeatedly inquired how we were holding up, how we were doing and if we needed anything. My son heard things like, “This must be so hard,” and, “I’m so sorry.” Being four, he interpreted these comments as him being hard and people feeling sorry for us that we had to deal with him. He did not understand that it was directed at the situation and his pain. He did not understand how he could be separated from his physical condition.
Having already answered him a dozen times that day, I simply crawled into bed next to him saying nothing and just hugged him. I was too emotional to speak. I was at a loss for an explanation he could understand. Then he asked me again “Mama, are you happy with me?” With tears in my eyes I said, “Yes. I am. I’m happier with you than any mommy has ever been with her little boy.” His eyes were sad and he forced a smiled at me. “Thanks,” was all he said. But I knew he didn’t believe me. While I read him his bedtime stories, I desperately tried to think of a way to make him understand just how happy I really was with him.
But, just as soon as I thought I had figured it out, he turned the tables on me. It was a simple response to a rhetorical comment. Nevertheless, laying there in the dark next to him, I was now the one who was confused and who didn’t understand.
I had put the books down and laid on my side, nose to nose with him. Quietly and seriously I said, “Of all the little boys in the world, I don’t know how you came to be mine. But you need to know that I am so glad you did. I will never ever want or love any other little boy more than you and your brother. I am so happy I get to live every day with you.” The room was filled with a heavy silence as my son absorbed my words. After a while, he spoke. I did not expect my statement to yield an answer. But he gave me one. A very unexpected one.
He was smiling now and looking at me like I was silly. “I know how I became yours mom,” he said matter of factly, “baby brother sent me.” I was genuinely caught off guard. It was not only a surprising answer but it didn’t make any sense. I felt a bit shocked, almost like I had been slapped by his words and I gave myself no time to think before I asked the only logical follow up question, “Well, if baby sent you, who sent the baby?”
Now he was giggling. He looked at me like I was an idiot for not knowing such obvious information. His answer left me speechless. I just laid there pondering his words in silence as I cuddled him in my arms. It wouldn’t be until I woke up the next morning, still next to my son, that I would find my words again. His answer still haunted me, challenging my understanding of the universe.
“No one sent him mom. Baby chose you. He chose both of us.”