All We Need, Now: Beyond the Ballot

“Sing my song, too,” he requests, scrunching his shoulders and grinning, tiny teeth shining white in the lamplight. “Sing it like Mumma does.” 

I lean over his temporary bed — a toddler mattress centered awkwardly on the floor of my boys’ bedroom and piled high with mismatched pillows, borrowed stuffed animals, and a shirt that smells like her. Like home.

You are my sunshine, my little sunshine. . .

Peace sweeps over him like a linen blanket. He relaxes his shoulders and inserts thumb into smiling mouth.

I notice how easy it is now, four weeks in. The calming down. The tucking in. Familiar, sleepy routine of nighttime lullaby rounds.

The first week he was with us, he explained night after night that he was just going to wait up for her. Propped on his pudgy elbow, he’d fight drowsiness for thirty, forty, fifty minutes, head bobbing up and down, quiet snores betraying his ambition. 

Beside him on the floor, I lingered, offering a comforting presence and praying the nurture in my heart would be enough to calm his restlessness and allow him to sleep in a room that must have seemed so far from home. A couple of those first nights, he sobbed and thrashed, refusing even to lie down until I lovingly bear-hugged him into submission, whispering through his wails, “I know you miss your mama. You have the best mama. You have the best mama.” Eventually, his resolve wore out and he melted into my chest, accepting a love that was second-best because it was the only love available in that moment.

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