"Are you ok?" I asked, as I pulled the quilts up around his shoulders. His eyes welled up with tears.
"I'm just thinking," he answered, "about the times you say you'll come in and kiss me goodnight, but you don't."
"How do you know I don't?" I asked.
"Because," he replied, "I stay awake." A tear slid down his cheek.
Sighing, I said, "Cade, you know I always tuck you in unless I'm nursing the baby when it's time for you to go to bed. And, yes, I'm sure there have been times that I have forgotten to come in and kiss you..."
He interrupted me. "I knew it! I knew you didn't come when you said you would."
"Cade," I admonished, frustrated, "I think you're a little hard on me, sometimes. I mean, did I not just bake five dozen cookies, on Tuesday, for your birthday? Did I not find someone to sit in the van with your sisters in order to deliver the cookies to your class? Have I not spent days cleaning the addition so you can sleep out there, with your friends? Am I not having a party for you tomorrow night? Are you really going to try to make me feel like a bad mom right now? Really?"
He looked away. "No," he answered. "You're right. It's ok."
I turned on my heels and left the room without saying: goodnight I love you, you impossibly needy child; I don't know how to say or show it better, or bigger, especially considering that I seem to have completely lost myself in caring for all of you and haven't even brushed my hair, today, as a matter of fact. Didn't you notice that your dinner, tonight, was actually healthy: baked chicken in barbeque sauce with cut green beans and real mashed potatoes? I made it all by myself, thank you very little, because your stepdad was busy helping you with your pinewood-derby car. And what about the Heath cookies I baked, today, that had no home for a change, other than in your belly and the bellies of the other people who live here?
I plopped down on the couch with the littlest one to write this blog post and cry my eyes out.
But now...now I think I will try to slide the sleeping baby off my lap, surround her with pillows on the couch, tiptoe back into Cade's room, climb into his bed, take his sleeping head into my arms and say: open your eyes here I am goodnight I love you, you little punk.