When I resigned from my job at Casa Valentina (an amazing organization helping boys and girls – and soon mothers! – who age out of foster care) to stay home fulltime, my colleagues gave me a heart-shaped glass paperweight with the Casa Valentina logo etched in the glass. It meant a lot to me and has been a fixture on my desk since the day I brought it home.
A fixture and a magnet. The boys, especially Riley, love toplay with it. When Riley was younger I would flat out take it away. “No touch,” I would say. Lately, I’ve been less strict. I let him hold it but I tell him to be careful. “That’s Mommy’s special heart and it will break if you drop it,” I say. “Okay, Mommy,” he replies.
This morning, Riley broke my heart. I was folding towels in the laundry room when he walked in holding my heart. Before I had a chance to remind him to be careful, it slipped out of his hands, fell on the tile floor and broke. I looked down at the little pieces of glass around our (bare!) feet and said, “Riley, you broke my heart.” Then I laughed because he didn’t break my heart. He broke my heart-shaped paperweight. It was an accident…and a paperweight.
What happened next was remarkable. Riley looked at me with his big blue eyes and said, “Mommy, I’m sorry I broke your heart,” and then he hugged me. Dylan, who was just a few steps behind Riley when the paperweight broke, started to cry and yelled, “Riley, you broke Mommy’s heart!” I shooed the boys and their bare feet out of the room to clean up the mess. While I swept and vacuumed, Dylan sobbed and told his brother over and over that he broke Mommy’s heart. When I put some larger chunks of glass in the trash, Dylan tearfully insisted I take them out. “Daddy will fix your broken heart when he comes home,” he insisted.
If you didn’t know we were talking about a paperweight, you would think something dreadful happened to our family. When everything was finally cleaned up, I sat down with the boys and told them not to be upset. I told them I was disappointed that the heart broke, but I wasn’t sad. I told them my heart was happy. Beaming, actually. Riley knew he did something wrong and apologized immediately, and even though Dylan over-reacted a little bit (my emotional creature!), he expressed perfectly just how much he knew the heart meant to me. I told them it was the best broken heart I ever had and then we got dressed for school.