He's there, beside me as I pull into consciousness. It's uncanny, the way I can sense this child. He stands, silently breathing but it's as if his body, once fused to mine, calls out to my muscles and sinews and that slow and steady release of air wakes me. It happened the night the thunder rumbled loud and long. "I'm afraid," he'd said. Reaching out with one arm I hooked it around his middle, pulled him close and whispered my approval about the sleeping bag and the floor.
It's happened again except that the sun is warm through the window already. I sneak a peek at the clock, five minutes shy of screaming. "I made you something!" he tells me when he sees my eyes. My mind tries to unravel itself from the dreams and the cobwebs. A Lego castle. A piece of artwork. Blocks turned into a cruise liner. "It's food!" he adds, proudly. I'm still too fuzzy to fully process the situation but I am suddenly aware that my six-year-old has made me breakfast and my stomach won't be awake for another 45 minutes.
I wipe drool from the corner of my mouth and hoist my legs over the side of the bed where my vows still sleep barebacked. He hasn't woken his father. The surprise is just for me. The significance keeps me from using the toilet--a decision I'd regret for the next ten minutes.
I feel the soft carpeting between my toes, see the vibrant blue sky peering through the blinds of the kitchen window. A bowl and cup sit at my spot at the table. "I poured it all myself!" he declares. "Come. Eat." I shake the final webs from my mind and survey the meal. A full bowl of milk with roughly thirty Cheerios bobbing on the top like tiny life preservers. And, because nine mornings out of ten I pour my boys milk for breakfast, a good fourteen ounces of the stuff swimming around my cup.
I can't stand drinking milk but once or twice a year when I strangely begin to crave it. This is not one of those times.
The Cheerios have been floating for long enough that they are milklogged and sticking together. I smile at his expectant gaze. A more perfect breakfast I have never laid eyes on.
I sit. Shoveling a bite of soggy Cheerios into my mouth, I smile at him and praise his culinary skills. He is proud. I ask him if he might feed the dog. As he trots off to perform the task I become the Olympic champion of pouring milk back into the jug. He is none the wiser when he returns.
"I love you, Mommy. I'll make you breakfast again on Mother's Day, okay?"
But how do I explain to my kindergartner that this is Mother's Day? This random act of service. This waking me when the rest of the house still sleeps. This moment together, the two of us. This is more special than some arbitrary day in May. This is honor.
He pulls a yogurt from the fridge and tugs valiantly on its foil lip. It doesn't budge. "Hey, Mommy, can you help me?" he slides the yogurt across the table. I free the breakfast, easily. "Thanks."
I wink at him.
I may never forget this moment.