She loved her son just as he was.
She watched him, still thick-limbed, thick-handed, thick-cheeked as he ran across the lawn, weaving unsteadily past rose bushes, topiary, and a few scattered statues of children. He toddled along on thick feet and shrieked with laughter, making her smile in return.
There was something sad in her smile, in the way she watched her little boy. She knew he wouldn’t be little forever. She dreaded the changes ahead, remembered seeing them come piece by piece upon her eldest. She’d watched the girl shoot up into the air, grow whip thin as though a wasting illness had come upon her. And then that awful thickening of adulthood, when sin came to sit heavy between her thighs and the last piece of beautiful innocence was gone. The woman that emerged on the far side of childhood was not the little girl she’d loved.
No, they were best like this, children were. Best when truly children.
She wondered how much longer he would stay this way — how long she had left with him still innocent about the world, still beautiful in the way only little children were. She wondered how much longer she would love him.
He disappeared behind a statue and she let her eyes wander. Had she already waited too long? She had with her daughter, certainly — but she hadn’t known then. She had with her first son too. By the time she saw the changes in him, it was too late. He’d already begun to grow up, to look at her with something other than adoration in his eyes. He was forever imperfect to her. And the second son as well — too long, too long.
Her third son emerged from behind the worn stone, saw her watching, and began to joyfully tumble toward her.
Oh, he was perfect just as he was, and it broke her heart. She closed her eyes against the sight of it, tried to hold back tears.
When she opened her eyes again, he hadn’t moved. He waited, smiling, glowing, thick and perfect. He balanced mid-step, still as stone. Perfect.
She loved her son, just as he was.
Katherine M Lansky is a freelance editor, geek, and bookworm currently living in Chicago. She’s done about a hundred things with her life, but writing is the only one that really seems to stick.