love is a sleeping boy behind my office chair

I have no words to accurately describe how much I love my children.

They are an extension of me. I feel what they are feeling. I am utterly lost in adoration. All of these reflect a part of how I feel, but none of them really explains it. Even as much as I care for and love my husband, it isn't the same deep, undying connectedness that I feel with my children.

A large part of that connected feeling, that unshakable bond we share, is that I know how much they love and care for me, and how much they depend on my love and understanding every day of their lives. We need each other, and we take each other just how we are.

At least, that's how it feels most of the time.

Sometimes, we have nights like tonight, where one of the children and I just aren't seeing eye to eye. It usually involves too little sleep or too much energy or too something that's got us acting anxious and cranky.

Tonight was one of those nights.

While all of my children are loving towards me, my middle son Jacob is probably the most obvious about it. He follows me wherever I go, never misses a chance to sit in my lap, and tells me several times a day that I'm the "best Mommy ever." It's going to my head, seriously. I feel like a superstar with Jacob around.

But tonight? Tonight, he was anything but loving. Everything I said hurt his feelings. Everything I did made him angry. He screamed at me, he hit me. He stomped away from me, arms crossed and eyes full of tears.

My heart felt so broken tonight. And I felt so astonishingly hurt. I know he was just tired and cranky, and unfortunately we take out those feelings on those we love first. But it was so out of character and so extreme that I was shocked by it. I kept reaching out my hand to grab his, or turning to scoop him up for a hug, and then stopping myself before I did it. I was flinching, bearing down for another tantrum that would leave me feeling decidedly unloved. And, unlike my normal personality, instead of shrugging it off, I pouted.

I let my husband worry about holding his hand to cross the street.

I didn't turn immediately when he called out to show me something he liked at the store.

I walked ahead, tight-lipped and silent, while my family trailed behind, instead of going last to make sure everyone was still together.

Even when we got home and I sat down at my computer, I still felt myself shutting out the love I normally feel all around me at home. I felt my normally proud and happy heart hardening to a tiny pebble in my chest.

That's when I turned around and saw this:

My little Jacob, curled up in a ball, sleeping silently behind my office chair.

We were both being stubborn and silly tonight because we were tired, cranky, and hurt. But at the end of the day, our best comfort is still in each other--even if it's in silence and without the other knowing it.

I love you, too, Jacob. I love you, too.