By Brian Leaf
Recently, Gwen has gone back to work part-time after years at home with our boys. Noah couldn’t be happier with the extra daddy time, but for Benji it’s an adjustment.
This past Sunday was our first full day without Gwen. Noah and I were setting up a puppet show when I realized that Benji was no longer in the den. Last I had seen, he was arranging his toy farm animals inside a fence.
I look around the house. He isn’t in the breezeway playing with his toy car ramp. He is not in Noah’s room having a peek at his brother’s things.
I find him in our bedroom, blankie tucked around his legs. He is trying to open a tube of Weleda skin cream that Gwen uses on his hands and face when he gets eczema. I sit down next to him.
“Do you want help with that?”
A very tiny, “Yes.”
I unscrew the lid, squeeze a blop onto his knuckles, and gently massage it in. I squeeze another blop onto my finger and massage his chin and cheeks. Benji purrs, bathing in the loving touch.
The sun is shining through the window, warming us. Benji and I are cozy and in love, connected, staring into each other’s faces.
“I love you, Benji,” I whisper.
He smiles, soaking it in, basking in it.
And then he looks me right in the eyes, beaming, his tiny face alight, as he says, “I love . . . Mama.”
But it’s not personal. I think right now, for Benji, “I love Mama” is the most powerful phrase he can utter. It’s an ode to love. A magical incantation. It’s like Papa Smurf saying, “Boy, that Brian Leaf, he’s so Smurfy.”
Although, really, who knows, because right after that, still gazing into my eyes, he continues, “And I like goats and some hay.”
Brian Leaf is the author of Misadventures of a Parenting Yogi: Cloth Diapers, Cosleeping, and My (Sometimes Successful) Quest for Conscious Parenting. Read our Q&A with Brian Leaf to learn more about his parenting style.
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