Home > Family, Los Angeles, Love, Parenting > “I want to see your beautiful face”

“I want to see your beautiful face”

My four-year-old son went to school breathing easy, but returned with a terrible cough. My husband and I usually have a ramp-up period warning us what’s to come. Not this time.

Our little one coughed his way to sleep in our bed tonight, sleeping fitfully for a couple of hours before awakening to a cough so hard he was retching.

After that subsided, I kept my hand on his belly.

“Are you leaving it there so you can feel if I throw up?” he asked.

“No, it’s because that’s what my mom used to do for me. It helped me feel a little better.”

He left my hand there for a few minutes, finally removing it to roll onto his belly.

I rolled back over to my preferred sleeping side. Would I finally be able to get some rest?

My son spoke softly. “I want to see your beautiful face.”

Not rest, that, but lovely words worth a little lost sleep. I turned back toward him. I saw the whites of his eyes for a few moments before one small hand came to rest upon my face.

His fingers traced my face for a few moments before his eyes drifted closed. “Your beautiful face,” he murmured as his breathing slowed.

His hand remained spread across my nose and cheeks, his fingertips resting on my eyelids. His breathing shifted to snoring.

Sleeping like that was out of the question for me, but a little sleeplessness didn’t seem so bad anymore.

Someday, my son might remember being comforted by the feeling of his hands on my face, the same way I remember being comforted by my mom’s hands on my aching tummy.

Right now, as I listen to a rare Los Angeles rainfall and reflect on this city’s standards of beauty, I remember the comfort of the sound of frequent Pacific Northwest rain growing up. I think it’s not so bad to be awake at midnight, considering these things and realizing how good it is to hear the words “beautiful face,” knowing they’re meant not to imply physical perfection but a deeper, more lasting goodness, the kind a child sees reflected not in features but in the light of his mama’s loving gaze.

Tonight I feel tired. More than that, I feel beautiful, having been granted a rare opportunity to see myself through someone else’s eyes and love.

It’s not the features that make the beauty to one who’s really looking, but what shines out through them from within. And that? Well, that makes a mark so lasting it glows even in darkness that reveals little else.

  1. February 28, 2014 at 12:25 am
  2. February 28, 2014 at 12:32 am

    When our little man was a 4 year old he suffered from crupe (I think that’s it) . It was in-bearable for us but his bravery during these times was amazing. Seeing your child ill is a real challenge. What a beautiful boy you have, to say something like he did is remarkable. I am sure that children know what they mean and they can be profound. That special man will grow as ours has and even at 20 still say I love you in front of his friends.What a lucky people we are. B

    • February 28, 2014 at 6:37 am

      That special man will grow as ours has and even at 20 still say I love you in front of his friends.
      Oh, but I hope so! Even reading these words makes me smile.

      I feel very, very lucky.

  3. February 28, 2014 at 3:52 am

    Who needs sleep when you get a memory to last a lifetime?

  4. February 28, 2014 at 6:08 am

    What a gift, for both of you. Because there is nothing more beautiful than mother’s love.

    • February 28, 2014 at 6:39 am

      After a long quiet stretch, I awakened to coughing just after 5 a.m., perking right up when I remembered our last exchange. I should clarify the “perking up” was of a kind having nothing to do with wakefulness, and everything to do with gratefulness. 🙂

  5. February 28, 2014 at 6:18 am

    oh wow! How very sweet! Last year, after my little brother had been in the hospital for months, my mom walked in and he goes “there is my mom, and angel on earth”. And he repeated it a couple of times, and mom just blew him off – yeah, yeah, yeah, brownie points for you son – but when he passed a few weeks later, it’s those words that come back to my mom and she treasures more than anything!

    • February 28, 2014 at 6:43 am

      I can imagine that exact reaction in the middle of hubbub and bustle! I’m sorry for the loss of your brother, but glad your mom has those sweet words to treasure.

  6. February 28, 2014 at 6:38 am

    How beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

    • February 28, 2014 at 6:46 am

      Thank you. I’d told myself I was going to go five days without posting, but . . . I was wide awake and really wanted to capture the moment for posterity. Glad I did, too, even if it meant missing my five-day no-post mark. Just a reset!

  7. February 28, 2014 at 6:52 am

    Awwwwww. That’s lovely.

  8. February 28, 2014 at 6:56 am

    This is lovely. I have moments like these that make me so grateful I have my children, but have never been able to express them as eloquently as you did here. I got a little teary-eyed. 🙂

    • February 28, 2014 at 7:37 am

      I started typing it out on my phone, wondering if I could possibly do it justice. Based on my feeling when I reread this upon awakening a few hours later, I captured what I needed/wanted to. I wish I remembered to do it with more moments, but the handful I do . . . well, they are representative, and I hope someday my kids might look back on these posts and see that. ♥

  9. February 28, 2014 at 8:27 am

    What a sweet little guy you have, he must take after his mummy & daddy. I miss my little treasures now that they are all grown up. This will forever be a precious memory for you.

    • March 1, 2014 at 5:58 am

      I definitely see his daddy in him in moments like this. And although this one is still fresh in memory, I think you’re right that it will forever stay there as precious.

  10. February 28, 2014 at 9:27 am

    So freaking adorable. Love it. (And hope Lil’D feels better soon.)

    • March 1, 2014 at 5:59 am

      Thanks! After a (now-rare) nap, the coughing seemed to have subsided a little. Fingers crossed. I really do wonder if the weather was behind it? So, so sudden!

  11. February 28, 2014 at 10:14 am

    My gosh, my heart is aching from expanding so much. This is absolutely beautiful. What a precious gift he gave you without even knowing it. I cannot wait for moments like these.

    • March 1, 2014 at 6:01 am

      What a precious gift he gave you without even knowing it.
      That’s exactly it! I almost wanted to wake him up and try to explain how much he’d touched me (or at least say “You fill my heart” like he did to me on Christmas), but I set it aside knowing later would be better. I hope someday he will look on at least a few of these posts and know how much better my life was for his loving words and acts. ♥

    • March 1, 2014 at 6:03 am

      Oh, one other thought! It was hard for me when Li’l D started moving around me, especially when he began walking. He didn’t need me the same way he had before. But then, the trade-off is moments like these, which . . . oh, so worth those first tiny steps of letting go and seeing him come back! I hope you will find the same. 🙂

  12. February 28, 2014 at 10:43 am

    Complete and pure sweetness. You told the story so well I could picture each and every moment as if it were a movie. And, how lucky you are that it isn’t…but real life instead. Such a blessing, and so precious that you recognize that. Our children-so tender. XOXO-Kasey

    • March 1, 2014 at 6:06 am

      I like how you describe it–like a story, but better because it’s real life. I’ll admit that pre-nap yesterday was possibly the grumpiest period our household has seen, but naptime gave a wonderful opportunity to regroup and set a different tone or the afternoon.

      I apologized for my own grumpiness, which pleased Li’l D, and the afternoon was full of snuggles and “farmer-tractor” (Transformer) play-fighting. So many different kinds of sweetness, each a gift!

  13. February 28, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    Awwww… Beautiful! Definitely made my eyes water quite a bit. Sometimes, they know just what to do or say 🙂

    • March 1, 2014 at 6:07 am

      I wish I had that knack! He can say in a handful of words what it’d take me 1,000 to say. 😉

  14. February 28, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    Schools are breeding grounds for all manner of bacteria it seems, Deborah.
    Hang in there – all of you.

  15. alicialhatton
    February 28, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    I love when my kiddos touch my face while they fall asleep. It’s such a vulnerable thing to allow and enjoy.

  16. February 28, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    “The kind a child sees reflected not in features but in the light of his mama’s loving gaze.” This statement is so beautiful. So true. It scares me and amazes me at the same time.
    On one hand, I’m scared because of the overwhelming responsibility I have in raising a little human. On the other, I’m amazed because little people teach big people such HUGE life lessons. If we could only see the world through the eyes of a child . . .
    Hope your baby feels better soon. As for the Los Angeles rain, I’m soaking up every minute!

    • March 1, 2014 at 6:12 am

      On the other, I’m amazed because little people teach big people such HUGE life lessons.

      I remember thinking about parenthood before I had Li’l D. I thought it was most like being an usher: escorting someone to find his/her own role in the world. Then, seeing more of Li’l D over the months and years, I realized what was missing was a mutuality: There was at least as much him guiding me as vice versa. I’m excited to see what I’ll learn from the littlest one, and to see what role Li’l D will play as usher, too. It’s a huge responsibility, but such a beautiful one.

      On the rain front, I LOVE IT! I stepped out into it a few times for a taste of my childhood. I don’t love nine consecutive months of rain annually, but I savor almost every drop that falls here. 🙂

  17. February 28, 2014 at 5:47 pm

    Thanks Deborah for sharing this precious moment.

  18. February 28, 2014 at 8:10 pm

    This touched my heart so sweetly. I remember our now 16-year-old little love saying, “I want your arm.” She would hold onto to it as it held her. Love is so healing, isn’t it?

    I am listening to the roaring of the rushing creek that the Pacific Northwest rainfall has fed these past few days. And the frogs have created a cacophony of croaking to rival it.

    Thank you for sharing such sweetness. Smiles!

    • March 1, 2014 at 6:16 am

      Love really is healing! I’m glad I traded in my old surly, stand-offish older ways and got into frame of mind to enjoy this goodness.

      Also, this mention of rainfall and creeks and frogs evokes another set of memories: falling asleep to the sounds of frogs in the rice paddies over in Japan. It’s such a gift to feel Los Angeles, the PNW and Japan all at once as I sit here this morning. Thank you.

      • March 1, 2014 at 8:06 am

        Sweet memories are here to remind us to live even more of them. Smiles!

  19. March 1, 2014 at 5:36 am

    I found myself reading this twice so the tears filling my eyes would drop. Doesn’t matter I can’t see what I am typing, only that the swelling of my heart would expand to fill my chest.

    You are one of the most beautiful souls I have come to know. Your beauty shines through everything you write. Your child sees it, even when you question.

    Thank you as always, sharing these moments.

    • March 1, 2014 at 6:17 am

      Thank you so much for so freely sharing your own beautiful heart in your comments. I always feel lighter of heart after getting to see a little of the world–my world, particularly–through your eyes. Thank you for that incomparable gift. ♥

  20. Thoughts of Beauty
    March 1, 2014 at 6:51 am

    Wow…. I’m speechless. That would have melted my heart ❤️

  21. March 1, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    what a touching gesture by your little boy. I know you’ll treasure that memory forever.

    • March 2, 2014 at 8:08 pm

      I really, really will. The morning was rough, but nap time gave me a chance to get back into the right (thankful) frame of mind!

  22. March 2, 2014 at 10:23 am

    Love it. Made me a little misty-eyed. Every once in awhile BoyGenius will still reach to hold my hand while falling asleep; he’s 10 now and our “I love you” only gets an “I know” or an “okay” as a response. He’ll snuggle when he’s sick or mad at me. It’s all good.

    • March 2, 2014 at 8:12 pm

      I am already starting to see glimpses of that here and there, which make me even more appreciative for these moments now.

      It is so amazing to me to have the gift of knowing a person through so many phases of their life, even if some involve distance and/or grumpy words. Beautiful, all of it!

  23. March 2, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    Just beautiful! What a treasured moment.

  24. March 2, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    Oh my gosh. I think this is one of the most beautiful things I have ever read. What an amazing moment he gave you, such a gift, that moment, for the both of you I suspect.

    • March 2, 2014 at 8:17 pm

      Thank you! I hope he remembers it. If not, I will be glad to remember it for the both of us. ♥

  25. March 2, 2014 at 11:00 pm


  26. Sheri Burns
    March 6, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    ❤ Sending you love (and sleep) across the miles<3

  27. March 6, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    This was so very sweet. Last night , my 19 month old had an all-encompassing tantrum, her first of its kind, really. It was very jarring for all of us. This was beautiful and soothing to read- thanks!

    • March 8, 2014 at 6:22 pm

      Oh, I feel you on that! I am excited about the baby about to join the family, but a little nervous about going back to ground zero for words. Words can occasionally be challenging, but they make communication so much smoother, too. I love being able to understand with so much more nuance what’s felt and seen. Best wishes!

  28. March 6, 2014 at 5:58 pm

    What a heartwarming tale, beautifully told. Thank you. xo

  29. March 12, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    Wow. Truly beautiful.

    • March 12, 2014 at 5:11 pm

      I am so grateful for my little guy’s openness with his words. Glad, too, to see you here, Nori. ♥

  1. October 13, 2014 at 4:28 pm
  2. November 19, 2014 at 12:34 pm

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