Jack had a bath today.
My youngest turned sixteen at the end of February, and then two weeks later my son turned nineteen, and a couple months before that my oldest bought her first car . . . on her own. But, Jack had a bath today.
This is what I like to call Look Over Here, Tracy.
When my children were young and we had to go to the doctor for shots, I would distract them, or tell them to, “Look at, Mommy.” My oldest always looked at me, tears of anticipation pooling in her enormous brown eyes. My middle would turn to me, but peer out the corner of his eye toward the nurse and the needle. My youngest didn’t even hear me and once tried to bite the nurse.
It’s a thing we do as parents, we try to distract so our children aren’t shocked or watching as the pain hits them.
As they get older, it’s scraped knees and splinters, a blister or a zit. “Look over here,” is still useful for ear piercings or IVs in the emergency room, but right about fifteen things change.
“Look over here, Tracy,” my mind tells my heart lately when it senses something is coming. As they learn to drive, walk with cap and gown, struggle, work, leave. My silly heart wants to watch, soak it all in, but my mind knows that is not always a good idea. It knows my poor stupid heart, as brave as she thinks she is, often can’t handle the rush of life, the goodbye kiss, the out of my control.
So my mind distracts. “Look over here, Tracy,” it whispers.
That’s how I met Jack. I’m not sure how I figured out that I needed him, but Jack is warm eyes, furry paw, my “have to” when no one needs a ride anymore.
He’s my look away.
He certainly doesn’t replace a full table of morning faces at breakfast, and he isn’t great at conversation, but he teaches me every day to take a walk. To close my eyes and feel the wind on my face, that everything is happening the way it is supposed to and things will be okay.
When it’s too much for my heart, when things change and I need to suck it up or I’ll screw it up, Jack gently bumps me with his nose and reminds me there is no need to stare the ache right in the face. They’ve got this, they’re your kids, look away for a bit, just until it passes.
It works, and when I look back, there is usually a sticker or a lollipop because I didn’t cling or play crazy helicopter, because I gave Jack a bath instead.
My thoughts from the laundry room. Blink.