Four feet nine inches.
A mere 57 inches, and already, everything has changed. It’s only been a week.
57 inches and you are sitting in the front seat, beside me. Your precious self safely tall enough to survive the airbag, so there you are, beside me on the short trips to and from school, and already everything has changed.
Windshield time, I’ve heard it said. For a boy-mom, invaluable.
Side by side, staring ahead, hearts wide open.
You tell me things I never would have heard from the backseat. You pray with me, aloud, tumbling out daily petitions for each other and those around us.
You sing along with the radio. “…if you want to know, how far my love can go, just how high, just how deep…” To hear your voice speak those words, engraving them on your heart, makes it hard for me to breathe.
I worry still, that you are safe. I won’t let you, not yet, on the freeway, or longer rides, but for our three mile commute each morning, this side-by-side but heart-to-heart connection is so precious, invaluable at a time in your life when you could be slowly shutting me out instead of letting me in.
I wave good-bye to you through the open door as you grab your backpack from the rear, when suddenly you turn and duck back inside the car.
A quick boy-kiss on my cheek, electric shock stopping my heart at this adolescent impulse of affection.
“I love you mom. Thanks for driving me to school.”
We wonder, parents, if this is ever going to be worth it. When they are screaming at us in anger and frustration. When the LEGOs underfoot and dirty socks abundant. When the water all over the floor and the toilet overflowing. When the voices raise, and the defiance roars…we wonder if they will ever appreciate what we’ve done, or all we’re doing. We wonder if they will ever truly see us, as humans, not parent-shaped servants and slaves.
And then the fragile moment appears, a filament of days to come, perhaps. Manna, to sustain through troubled hours and family famine.
Reassurance that, yes, it’s worth it. It truly is.