He sits over a bowl of chocolate ice cream. A big bowl. And I go generous on the chocolate syrup to sweeten the conversation. And between bites he starts to share. The story of the day that was too hard to tell in the preschool corridor spills out over tears and chocolate ice cream.

He eats slowly, with big bites. He swallows and shares and then bites again.

I listen carefully.

I listen because it’s all I can do. My nearly six year old is teaching me to find new ways to love him. Because the familiar methods of rocking, hugging, and kissing were left behind along with his toddler bed earlier this year. He is growing into a new view of himself and sometimes it makes me dizzy to see who he is becoming.

Some days more like me and some more like his dad. But mostly he’s becoming himself.

So I feed him ice cream and wait for the story to melt out of the hard hurting corners of his day. I can’t take away the ache or the disappointment, but I can help him metabolize it. This is a new kind of learning to walk. Often he falls down and I have to watch as he gets himself upright again. As he finds his balance and processes what he tripped over.

It is a learning curve for both of us.

How to give comfort with words and space before the familiar territory of hugs.

As mamas we weave beauty out of the ache. We offer ourselves as buffer against the world and then send the most precious pieces of our hearts back out into it again. And any hurt we’ve experienced ourselves is as nothing compared to how it feels to watch our children wounded. What we wouldn’t give to bruise instead of them.

What we wouldn’t give.

I feel the Father squeeze my hand. And we both sit over that bowl of chocolate ice cream and watch a blond haired boy growing up before our eyes.