Once upon a time, Alex didn’t like me. By once upon a time, I mean most of the first four years of his life. He had his daddy, and I was Cletus the Slack Jawed Cousin who he tolerated at best, usually because I made milk and he liked milk. Once the milk days were done, he didn’t need or want me for much.

I lost track of the number of times he told me to go away, or screamed because he didn’t want me. I quit expecting him to be excited to see me. I never quite quit trying though. Even when I had to talk myself into facing the next day with him thinking I was fourth best (behind Daddy and his cats. I won’t even consider that I was really also behind Little Einsteins and Team Umizoomi as well.)

It had everything to do with what was inside me too. Once I fell in love with the bud, well, bring it on sport, we’re in this together.

Taking him to his daddy for Christmas was hard, this kind of parenting ain’t for sissies. I got past my anxiety of knowing I wouldn’t see him for two weeks, and really didn’t miss him while he was gone. I knew he was well cared for and having a great time with his Daddy. I knew we’d be fine when he got back.

Poor buddy. Today was hard on him. He didn’t want to leave Daddy, even though he climbed right in the car and buckled up, filling me up with stories about watching the donuts get made at Krispy Kreme. The drive home was long. Many times he told me “I really miss Daddy”. I know you do, buddy, I know you do.

I can tap into that little six year old who lives in me and remember just enough of what it was like to go between my parents too. I remember the dread of leaving Dads. I never really remember dreading leaving Moms. Which has more to do with the stability of knowing she was right there and would be there, unchanged, when I got back.

His topper comment of the night was, “I like Missouri and I like Kentucky. I don’t like you, I only like Daddy.”

Well, little love, “Thank you for trusting me enough to be honest with me and tell me how you feel.”

My heart didn’t even twinge when he said it. Not that I’m an unfeeling robot of a person, just that, I know . . . I know this boy, MY boy.

He doesn’t like me tonight. He doesn’t like situation, and he downright hates leaving his daddy. All of this okay. It shows me how much he loves us and trusts us. He trusts us enough to tell us exactly what is on his mind and he knows that we can take it and love him right back.

He still wanted snuggled at bedtime, he fell asleep with his arm wrapped around my neck. I know in a few hours that he will wake up just enough to pad his way into my bed.

He loves me enough now to know I can take the rough stuff. He can let his waves of grief and anger crash on my shores, and I’m right here to support him. Like the sand, I will flow right along with him, yet be solid enough he can rage all he wants, I will be right here, awaiting his next wave.

This parenting stuff is amazing. I’m grateful for all the work I’ve done and all I’ve learned in the last several months. This night would have torn me apart a few months ago. Tonight I go to sleep securely knowing that I am still exactly the mommy he needs, even if I’m not the one he wants right now.