A Soft Place to Land

Today both of my boys sat on my lap in public places.

My oldest, age 8, came to me at Starbucks when he was feeling hungry and bored.  None of the food at Starbucks appealed to him.  Although it was just the two of us, a rarity, he was missing his brother.  He came over to my side of the table and climbed onto my lap facing me, his long legs straddling each side of my body. It was nearly comical as onset of a puppy body have begun, where hands and feet grow first, then long limbs, as if he is a cartoon character. He buried his face into my shoulder as I held him, an intimate moment amid Frappuccino Happy Hour.

I can still provide comfort for a need that cannot be described.

Will he come to me when he doesn’t make the team or when his first crush turns him down? Will he look to me for comfort? I imagine a basketball player of a boy, my lap overflowing and know he will not draw to me in this same way for long.  Yet I hope I can always provide a safe place for him to land, to renew.

My youngest, age 6, came to me at the library.  The three of us had each selected a stack of books for the next few days and sat reading in the quiet of the library.  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him get up and walk towards me.  He didn’t look at me, he simply turned around, backed up into my lap, his eyes never leaving the book he carried.  I put my arms around him, holding him as we both read our books.

This is what I’ve always wanted.

There is a comfort in just being together --that quietness when you can just be with someone.  We don’t have to talk. There is no need to entertain each other. There is a calm in just being present with each other—just showing up and being yourself.

As they age, there will not be that many people they can just be with.  I remember when I found this magic with their father. It was in college and we were “just friends” at that point. As neighbors, we discovered we could study well with each other. Some nights he’d call to see if I was up for a study partner. Yes, I’d say. Walking to my house, he’d walk in without much of a hello, and plop on the couch for the next few hours to pour through his texts. His presence kept me from closing my books and calling it a night.

That night, when the boys have been tucked into bed, I return to the front room where my husband sits, looking at his laptop. Noticing me, he closes the laptop and puts it away. I crawl into his lap as he puts his arms around me. Nothing needs to be said. We sit, enjoying the silence and peace of our home. I think to myself, this is what is feels like to not be alone.