Memories of Warmth
Children can be strangely keen at times.
I thought as I blinked vacantly at what Devin had just asked me. He crinkled his nose at me since I haven’t answered yet.
“Mommy, why does your hair look so different from mine?”
It was an innocent question, one that I should have easily been able to answer, to make any number of excuses that were available to me…
“Th-That’s because children can look like either their mommies… or daddies…”
He looked at me skeptically, those eyes of his knowing only what has been told to him. What I have told him. And none of it included anything about his father. But children learned to pick up on even the slightest hints, like the strange tone whenever the word daddies escaped my mouth.
But what could I say about him? How could I tell Devin about some stranger who even I didn’t know about? What kind of fantasies would it build if I were to do so?
Rather than answer, I gave him a hug, feeling the warmth flow into me. Devin liked hugs, or perhaps, I had trained him to like them. Regardless, that was all I could do to distract him from the subject at hand.
It bothered me. To be questioned. Even if it came from a child. I didn’t want to remember that old life. I cared nothing for it.
My fingers intertwined with the curly, blond hair against me, comparing it with the straight darkness of my own. Slowly, I backed away from him and forced out my best smile. I looked him straight in the eye, which was still eager for answers.
“Tell you what, how about we do something about that? Okay? It’ll be a surprise worth waiting for.”
The very next day, Devin giggled at me. His shrill cries strewn from rosy cheeks seemed to mock the sudden change that he woke up to.
“We match! We match!” He clapped his hands enthusiastically.
I tossed my head from side to side for good measure, brandishing the new curls that were several shades lighter. It had taken hours for the dye job to come close and the remainder of the night for the curls to set. But I puffed my chest out in pride, reveling in the belief that we were that much closer as parent and child.
If only a person was so easy to change, to become someone who they weren’t, life would be so much easier…
“Now, what do you think? Does it look good on me?” I grinned as he danced around, still in his pajamas. His expression mirrored his inner feelings, long before any words could come out of him.
“You look funny, Mommy.”
I celebrated regardless, bringing back every bit of joy to ward away the gloomy moments. With Devin, there would be nothing but good times.
“I know, how about you draw some pictures of us? To show how well we match? Before Mommy goes back to being her boring self.”
Devin’s eyes shone brightly at the suggestion. He loved to doodle, especially if it was something new. Within minutes, he had his crayons and started scribbling a crude picture of Devin and Mommy with matching hair. He proudly displayed it before me when he was done.
I took the picture and taped it on the wall, where he would see it. Every morning. Whenever he woke up. That would be the first thing he would see. A constant reminder that I was his Mommy. That it didn’t matter that my hair was different.
Nothing would keep me from loving him. Any differences on the outside were just skin deep.
I reached over and gave him a tight hug. He giggled in response before lightly squirming away. He knew what was coming.
“You’re soooo waaaaarm!”
He playfully fought against me, the Cold Mommy Monster. We tussled for a bit, not caring that the bed sheets became tangled. We could make the bed later. But for now, I had to prevail.
After several minutes, the shrieks died down, and we both lay there, staring up at the picture taped upon the wall. The two blobs and sets of dots and lines that made cartoony faces. The blond curls that sprung randomly on both sets of heads. And balloons in our hands, to show how happy we were.
The simplicity of it felt endearing. Unweathered and unmarred by the harsh reality of life. This was all that we needed. I held Devin closer to me.
Warmth. Warmth shared between us. From our touch, from our embrace – that was what we needed to prove that we were family. Nothing else.
There was beauty in love without reason.