Mama, hold my rock

 When he was 8, he asked me to hold his rock. I already had piles of his special rocks on the window sills and overflowing buckets of rocks, sticks, and shells in the garage. On that fall day, my coat pockets were heavy with dirty rocks he and his little sister found. I was pushing a baby in the stroller, leaning against it for support as my vertical c-section wound still hurt. I was exhausted. I didn’t want to hold anything. It was hard enough to hold myself upright. 


But the wonder in his sparkling eyes was too precious to squander. I nodded as he excitedly told me he found the perfect rock for me. It wasn’t the first perfect rock he’d given me, nor would it be the last. This one was shaped like a heart. It was just like the jewelry I kept in a box on my dresser. But it was bigger, fancier, and more expensive than we could afford. But we didn’t have to afford it because he found it for me. Wasn’t I lucky? I nodded and smiled while I searched for a snack for his sister. Sure, I was lucky, but my mind was on making dinner and getting everyone bathed before I cried from sheer exhaustion.


After everyone was bathed and in PJs, he checked on the rock. He wanted to make sure I put it with my other jewelry. I shuffled downstairs and rummaged through my coat pockets to find the rock. I didn’t know which one was the perfect heart rock. There were so many similar looking rocks mixed with dirt. I slumped to the floor with the pile and put my head in my hands. It was impossible not to disappoint him. If I chose the wrong rock, he’d think I didn’t care. My sweet boy, who asked for so little, would think his mama didn’t care about his gift. Exhausted tears rolled down my cheeks. I didn’t notice when he appeared. “Mama?” He squatted next to me. “You found it! Are you crying happy tears because I gave you the best gift ever?” I hugged him as he pulled the treasured rock from the pile. I was crying happy tears then and I’m crying happy tears now. I’m so grateful he made me save the heart-shaped rock in my jewelry box. He’s grown into a young adult and likely forgot about the rock. But I could never forget. Whether he knows it or not, it’s still the best gift I’ve ever received. 

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