My favorite thing about Mommy is…”she plays with me.”
~Ethan, age 4~
“Mom? Do you wanna play with me?”
He’s wearing his father’s old bathrobe, no shirt underneath. This is the baby who made me a mother. These past few months I’ve noticed his widening shoulders, his torso filling out alongside his arms. He’s got the voice of a boy and the body of a growing one. He doesn’t call me Mommy anymore, but he still asks me to play. I don’t always say yes.
“Sure, whattaya wanna do?”
Those days when he was young, when I didn’t have to work, he had my devoted undivided attention. We played Thomas trains all day long, all the blessed day long. On the days we couldn’t be together I missed him something awful. During those twelve-hour hospital shifts, it was all I could do to help the old men swallow their pills, tuck in my patients, and dream about the time I’d be crawling around on the floor playing trains again.
The game he picks is foreign to me. He shuffles up the deck of cards.
I smile at the boy, though he has no idea why, but I do.
He can teach me how to play.