The Mall

We brought the Bean to the mall today, because it’s a million degrees outside and we’ve already been to all the indoor playscapes a million times and the Bean’s got a million jigawatts’ worth of energy coursing through his veins and the mall’s nice and cool and easy.

Somewhere between Sears and Macy’s, there’s a small area sectioned off for little kids to play – not a playscape, really, just a kind-of-open house with a small slide and a couple of racecar-like structures to sit in. Nothing moves, nothing interacts – except the kids.

The Big Bean hits the nearest kiosk to haggle prices on a trail watch he’s had his eye on, so I walk the Bean over to the small play area, point him in the direction of the other kids, and take my place among the other parents on a nearby bench to supervise.

There are plenty of other boys and girls there, so the Bean’s in his element – chasing, running, laughing, flirting, jumping – JOYFUL. It’s a beautiful thing to watch, it always is. My heart absolutely OVERFLOWS as I watch him play. I mean, really, I could just BUST with pride and joy and love and dedication and protectiveness and awe.

But then he falls down, the result of a backwards slide gone wrong, and the laughter comes to an abrupt halt as he absorbs what just happened. Another mom is closer to him than I am, and she rushes over to make sure he’s okay. But as she approaches, he recoils, looking around desperately for the only thing he really wants. The only thing that can really make him feel better. Me.

He finds me in the crowd of parents and stands up and runs my way as fast as he can, throws himself into my arms, and cries in the sweetest, most despairing voice I’ve ever heard – “Mama! Mama! I feh down!”

I wrap my arms around him and hold tight, stroking his back and assuring him that everything will be okay, and in that moment, that one, tiny moment , the confused, depressed, whiny, insecure little girl I’ve been for these past few months is suddenly gone – nowhere to be found. In her place stands a towering, strong, focused, sensible, independent, LIGHT presence that I can’t see, but I can FEEL — looking down at me, not so much judging as concerned, asking pointedly…

“What the hell have you been DOING?”

And I really have no answer. I don’t KNOW what I’ve been doing.

I’ve been so wrapped up in ME ME ME. I Need. I Want. I’M confused. What is wrong with ME? What about ME?

And a certain amount of that is justified… I mean, we’re all entitled to be a little selfish every now and then – right? It’s okay to be dissatisfied and wish for more sometimes. If we DIDN’T focus on the things we don’t have, we’d never actually get them.

But to let it take over your life, to let it take the focus away from the things that are really important…

I just don’t know WHAT I’ve been doing.

As the Bean, fully recovered from his spill, pushes away from me and runs off again to play, the Big Bean arrives with his new watch and sits down next to me. I grin at him and put my hand in his, and we sit there together with glowing smiles, watching our beautiful son dance before us.

We’ve been through so much together, the Big Bean and I. This month marks eighteen years since we first met — Eighteen years of ups and downs and really ups and really downs and huge laughs and big tears and fucks and fights and one absolutely stunning, perfect Bean to show for it all. He has his many faults and I have my few, but so far there hasn’t been ONE SINGLE THING that we haven’t been able to laugh about together. Not one.

I don’t know what the future holds for us, no one can predict what will happen to them ten years from now, or even ten minutes. Life is WAY too full of surprises to ever think you’ve got it all figured out.

But what I DO know is that I will forever love this man, my best friend, the father of my son, the love of my life. And that little Bean, the one who’s brought both of our lives meaning and magic and a love like we never knew before.

And for now, that’s really enough.

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