Curling means swirling my tired, frizzy hair around and around in his fingers until it makes a curl. Or a rat nest. Or until I whimper because he really got into it and tore some out. Grayson has used my hair as his lovey for years. When he was very small, he'd take my ponytail out, hold a hunk of mommy freedom hair in his grasp, and growl like a kitten practicing his cat. My mom always called this "The Passion" which is just one of the many things my mom names that have become our family's indigenous language.
The Passion was such a crutch for baby Grayson to soothe himself that I co-slept with him until well after a year. When we finally braved up to stick him in his own crib, Dude was pissed. In desperation to reclaim my own scalp and space, I bought the only doll I could find with dark hair like mine. She was basically a Spice Girl knock-off in a shiny green, painted-on catsuit. A ho bag we named Lolita. Grayson wasn't fooled. This imposter was no mommy hair replacement and she was chucked at the wall faster than I could make it downstairs to watch through the baby monitor.
Those nights kept me awake for more hours than anyone else in the house. Watching my baby boy and his plumped up nursing lips at midnight, then at 3, then again at 5 and 7 (He was a VERY hungry baby. He was hangry.) was the only reward for the loss of brain cells and sanity happening in my own milk-bloated body. When I think back to that time in his soft nursery, I remember the beige slider, Iroquois drum/chanting music on replay, and the way his baby socks always looked too small on those chunky baby thighs right before he fell asleep in the crook of my arm.
Somehow, throughout the years, we got Grayson to sleep in other ways. Now, he rarely gives us any trouble at night and goes to bed without a fight. Like clockwork, he asks me to kiss Abby first and then come back for him.
"Mommy? I have to ask you something. Do you have any time for curling?"
Most of the time I say yes, crawl in bed next to him and lay my head down on his Lightning McQueen Pillow. He makes curls in my hair while we chat about "Luke Skywalkers," a bad call from the umpire in his last baseball game, or if I think he should be a Marine he grows up.
Lately though, Andy and I have been bustling, hustling and plain ole desperate for extra kid-free minutes to get housework done or even an adult conversation about which fundraiser to fill out or "recycle" for the next morning.
On those nights Grayson hears:
"Oh Honey, I have to go make lunches."
"Maybe tomorrow, Mommy is SO tired."
"I would but your sister is still milling about in her underwear."
Immediately, I hate myself as the corners of his hopeful eyes lower in acceptance. "Ok. Maybe tomorrow. Goodnight Mom. I love you."
That little meatloaf love muffin turns seven tomorrow. I don't wistfully wonder where the time has gone because I've been right here inhaling the minutes and exhaling out the seconds for nearly every speck of it. The decisions we've made for this family - me staying at home with our kids have made us beyond frustrated, without frills, and with somewhat funny medical side effects of fatigue. For me though, they've allowed a keen understanding of shifts going on that I might otherwise overlook. The subtle changing going on every day I can't see but can feel without that extra look back at the bus stop. All this helps me fully appreciate that soon our Curling Time is coming to a close.
His once chubby baby legs now reach past the middle of his twin size bed. His Spiderman jammy pants are always too small. There are Lego Batman books in his bed instead of loveys. Books that he now can read to himself before bed. Stuffed animal friends that he once meticulously lined up in order of who comforted him the most are now strewn about in the closet, forgotten until I
This little hangry, loving babe has been doing a phenomenal job in becoming a beautifully intuitive, smart boy. I could not be prouder or luckier to be this boy's mother.
And yes, you can bet your catsuit I will always say yes to curling whenever he asks.