Sleepy, shared mornings are my favourite. We lie, entwined together, cosy beneath the covers. We chat and laugh our time away as the world moves on, oblivious outside our door.
He watches me as I speak, his eyes devouring the movement of my lips, the pull of my cheeks and the crinkle of my eyes as I smile and laugh. He joins me in my mirth as I recount stories of children who are not mine.
As my words dance off, their tale told, he says to me softly, reverently:
“You’ll be an amazing mother one day.”
And I chuckle at his words. He does not yet realise, because it is not something he yet seeks.
It is a truth written in the softness of my curves, the way another body curls comfortably and willingly against my own, fitting into my form like pieces of a puzzle.
The way that I celebrate glories and soothe terrors is a hymn, its melody rising through a space of worship.
He hears the pride that echoes in my voice as I recount the accomplishments of loved ones, as I encourage successes and praise those I love for precisely who they are. He hears this, and assumes it is just part of my nature. He does not see the complete truth in the frank and honest way that I love people – how could he? I’ve come to learn that my blunt acknowledgement of my loved ones being imperfect is a luxury that not all indulge in.
He sees my efforts to keep a clean, comfortable, welcoming home as a way of proving myself a contributing member of the household, and not as the nurturing act it is – to provide refuge and safety for those that need it.
I will nourish you, whether it be your stomach, your heart or your soul.
He knows if he calls, I will come running regardless of time, for if he needs me, without a doubt I will be there. He has seen me react to the cries of a child in the night – my body moving, my feet on the floor, before I am even fully conscious. I will wake properly after the child is scooped safely into my arms, nestled against my neck, and soothe them back to sleep long before I sleep again myself.
He can fall apart safe in the knowledge that my arms will hold him together, and that my heart will still love him as tenderly and fiercely as it did before he shattered.
He knows I will help him pick up the pieces, because, he thinks, security and order keeps me calm.
I have mothered children that are not mine as he has watched in equal parts terror and awe. He has borne witness as I have handled tantrums with a steady patience, soothed and rocked a crying infant until she settled into sleep against my heartbeat, and marvelled at acts that are, for me, the most natural in the world.
The laughter of children bubbles forth like a spring-filled brook, and my own laughter comes quickly and easily I drink theirs in, catching glimpses of a world still full of magic through their eyes.
When he sees a child misbehaving, I see a child who is hungry, tired, or who just needs to be loved a little harder that day. I know how it feels to need to be loved a little harder – he knows how it feels to love me harder.
He has laughed as I have fielded the pointless and perpetual questions rapid-fired in my direction from children who do not yet attend school, but contain a wealth of knowledge within them. He has heard my voice as loud as thunder quell arguments, and watched me withdraw silence from another with a single raised eyebrow.
I have drawn silence forth from him with that same eyebrow.
I have the heart of a warrior, as tender as your first real love. I will love you with the force of waves crashing onto a storm tossed shore, fiercely and completely. I will love you as lightly as the slightest of summer breezes – you do not know how you long for it until you get the smallest taste of that cool breath against your burning skin.
I will entwine my life with yours without hesitation or fear, because I know it is what I am built for. I am capable of loving you wholly, even when I am unable to love myself.
He does not know, for he cannot know. Not yet.
Even though I have not borne a child forth from my womb, I am a mother. I have not felt life grow within me, but I nurture it to fruition around me at every opportunity. I will laugh, encourage, scold, moralise, empathise and love you until I have nothing left to give. And then I will give you a little more. I’ll love you a little harder.
“You’ll be an amazing mother one day.” He says, softly, reverently.