I stand in your bedroom doorway as tears create rivulets down my cheeks, pooling on my chin for a millisecond before splashing onto my shirt. You are sound asleep, curled on your side facing the wall.
I sneak across the wood floor and lay beside you, on top of the blankets. The sudden restriction causes you to turn towards me onto your back. You throw an arm above your head. It stretches across my face, but I leave it there and drape my arm over your chest.
I stare at your profile in the semi-darkness. The curve of your forehead and the contours of your cheeks give evidence of the baby you were not long ago.
You told me yesterday that superheroes aren’t your favorite anymore. I felt the sinews of my heart stretch when you said those words. Batman adorns your walls, the dress-up bin is filled with every superhero costume there is, the first stories you told as a toddler were filled with the heroics of your bevy of made-up crime fighters.
My lips are inches from your ear and I almost whisper, “You’re not supposed to grow up,” but I don’t because it’s a lie. A lie I want desperately to believe right now, but a lie all the same.
School begins in a few days; your first foray into the big kid world. I suppose it’s fitting that your favorites are changing along with this new season of life. As your world expands, my heart continues to stretch. It’s necessary, I know, but it’s also painful.
I lean in, whisper, “I love you,” and kiss your head. A single tear, my tear, glistens on your temple. I stare at it for a moment, then wipe it away. You don’t need the heartache of your mama spilling onto you, holding you back from a lifetime of adventures.
I slip out of your room, leaving the words I want to say unsaid, and thinking new words instead, words that one day maybe I’ll believe: