From when he would give me clumps of grass like they were treasure.
Children are romantic geniuses. We are swept off our feet with wild declarations of love that burst forth from hearts that aren't big enough to contain what we mean to them. When they fix their clear unblinking eyes to ours, grab our cheeks between their pudgy hands and whisper at volume 28 as only little ones can, “I don't care if you are an old lady you are my favorite face,” the air fills with Ravel's Bolero. A child's poetry, words set to flight that are worthy enough to land at Aphrodite's feet. Instead, it is we who are the blushing recipients of diamonds spilling from cupid's bow mouths.
My three children have wet whispered words of love into my ear that would set any college woman's cheeks ablaze. But it was with my firstborn's pleadings to my mother when she tried to kiss his angel feet that, “No! No! My piggy toe is only for mommy to kiss!” that I knew I had to start a notebook reserved for the purity of the unguarded love my kids had for me.
Over the years, I've quickly scrawled the small daily verbal notes of love from my babies. Grabbing any scrap of paper, any broken piece of crayon around, I'll try to catch word for word the magic before it rises and joins with the stars of the universe. All one and two sentence wonders, but the ones I share here are from the moments that their words crashed beautifully into my heart, shattering it into a million glorious pieces.
“Do they sell brown balloons, mom? Because I want some that are the color of your eyes.”
“I don't get it. When I put frosting on my graham cracker it doesn't taste like when you put frosting on my graham cracker.”
“Mom? Stay here until I fall asleep because I want to hold your hand and take you with me to my dreams.”
“I wish it could be OK to marry your mom.”
“Most kids at school don't like it when someone says you look like your mom. But I do.”
“I made a wish on the dandelion, mom, that you could be little again and we could be friends.”
“Stay here, and watch this show with me. It's funnier when you're here.”
“Is there a law that says you have to live away from home? How about one that says you can't live next door?”
“I'm going to build a house with a secret side door so you can sneak in and my wife won't know and you can still live with me.”
“You know how you do a thing? And it makes you not want to do other things? That's what it is when you swing me.”
“When we're old together, mom, do you think we'll still like walking on this path?”
Our children and their romantic genius. Shakespeare could learn more than a thing or two about the seduction of love expressed simply and unbridled, with the intense want for someone who is your world for that short, magical time of childhood.
On the rough patchy days that motherhood can bring, when I doubt that I'm the good mother that my children deserve, I look through my notebook of love and I'm reminded just what a wonder of a mother I must be, to have had these love poems written to only me.