I got up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. When I opened the door to the hallway, there was my seven-year-old son waiting for his turn.
And seeing him, standing in his boy-sized underwear in the glow of the nightlight, my heart split right open and my throat caught.
There was something in his stretched, bare limbs, his mussy hair and sleepy eyes that was so vulnerable.
For one second, I caught a glimpse of his entire life. The baby he was, the child he is, and the man he will someday be. Wearing underwear to bed, getting up at 3:00 AM to pee, discovering his own child in the hallway, keeping his own family safe.
A strange wave of pride, love and fear swept over me.
With tears in my eyes, I tucked him back in, squeezing him extra tight. Folding him into the covers. Protecting him while I still could.
That’s the thing about being a parent. Sometimes your heart splits open when you least expect it.