When AJ was little, he had mad empathy. When other babies would cry, he would wail like crazy. This has never left him and I’m inclined to believe it’s part of his temperament. He’s always been the caretaker in this house, and I think it’s because he sees that when one of us is sick, we all take care of that person. It is how we handle sickness or sadness or stress. Since he was very tiny, he would play the nursemaid when Leon or I was sick. I still remember him fetching me lukewarm water in the bathroom cup when I was nursing a migraine because he’d seen Leon bring me water for my aspirin. I believe he was as young as 3 when he started.

When Leon or I am sick, he hates to go to school and when he is here, he will bring ice packs, aspirin, wet washcloths and as many hugs, kisses and cuddles as we will take. There are many nights that he went to bed on a Friday night at 7:30 because I was sick with a migraine and laying there. He would lay next to me, patting my hand, and would eventually drift off.

There is a certain sense of guilt that comes with having chronic pain–that burden that you place on the people around you. The feelings that you may have of feeling like less of a person some days often express themselves at the weakest moments and not always in the best of ways. They often present in anger, misery or irritability. AJ is immune to that when someone is sick.

This isn’t to say that he doesn’t have his egocentric “me me me” side, because he certainly does, but it has never been as strong as I expected. And I’m watching him shed it rapidly and sooner than the developmental scales predict and I wonder about the kind of man he’ll become, and how quickly it will happen. Will I ever be ready for it? People keep telling me to have more children. My guess is that they recognize that there is so much love within me for this little guy that it breaks me.

I worry less about it when I see that I haven’t done an awful job and that my health issues haven’t affected him so dramatically. As he was going to bed tonight, he kissed my cheek, hugged me tightly and said, “I hope you feel better tomorrow, mama.” Then, he gave me the dimpled grin that melts my heart and he and his hoppy little weiner dog went to sleep.

Somehow, I think we’re all going to be alright…