As we walked across a gas station parking lot, my son Eli informed me for the first time ever that he did not need to hold my hand anymore. His little hand that has grown in mine for four years and become so familiar to me just let go. It might not seem like a big deal, but it left me feeling some intense growing pains that were magnified by those time flies feelings I can’t seem to shake lately. I know it wasn’t anything tragic like he will never hold my hand again, but I wasn’t prepared for how quickly this transformation into boyhood snuck up on me.
Now, it seems that moment of letting go was the catalyst for growing. I am noticing how very big my boys are getting in all kinds of ways. I notice how tall Eli is when he wakes up all sleepy in the morning and makes his way to the kitchen in nothing but his undies. I notice how he can reach all the way to the third shelf in the pantry. It makes my heart race with this ever-spinning timer I have counting down my years as a mama of littles.
I notice Oliver, my ten-month-old, and how his feet dangle far past my lap now while I am feeding him. I notice the new sounds he makes like a baby Velociraptor, all squeaky and cute. I see how he now uses his hands to clap and curls his fingers to imitate others in a wave bye-bye. I am aware of all this growth.
Every day, in the middle of some moment or conversation I am so very aware that it could be our last. Some small change will take place while they sleep and tomorrow they will be just a little bit bigger. I find myself laying by them a little longer than usual after sleep takes them so that I can memorize the lines of their faces, the curves of their noses and the way thick lashes rest on their cheeks.
My sentimental heart is holding on so tight to what is left of their babyhood. I am preparing myself for the seemingly small things that I may have to give up sooner than I expect, such as Eli not wanting to hold my hand anymore. My heart is already compressing uncomfortably just thinking about it, but hopefully by acknowledging that these milestones are on their way, I won’t feel the force of their growth quite so strongly when they finally arrive.
There will come a day when my four-year-old is no longer in the mood to make believe or get ridiculously happy over bubbles. So, I feed his imagination and creativity while I still can. There will come a day when he no longer wants my opinion on which superhero is the coolest, what clothes to wear or what food is healthy, so I share my opinions while he still wants to hear them.
There will come a day when Eli will no longer tell me everything that is on his mind, so I listen closely while he still wants to talk to me. There will come a day when he no longer says, “Watch this, Mama!” So I observe while he still thrives off my encouragement.
And, there will come a day when my Ollie baby won’t come charging down the hallway on all fours when he hears me talking in another room. So, I will meet him halfway and scoop him into my arms while he still wants me to. The day will come, really soon, when he will no longer look and feel like a baby anymore. So, I will drink in everything babyish about him; his long lashes, his beautiful tufts of strawberry blonde hair, his full and pouty lips and his milky skin. I will savor it all.
All of these moments right here will soon fade. Five, ten, twenty years from now, I will ache to have them back. I will want to touch this baby again, to see this round face framed in nothing but cheeks and to put on a cape and fly with my son. Because of this, I breathe in these moments just a little deeper and savor their sweetness just a little longer. I do it for my future self; the girl that will help her grown up babies pack their bags and settle in a college dorm or board a plane and move into a stage of life where their mama can’t always follow. That girl would want me to.
Someday, the years will replace these days and separate me from these moments I am living right now. My littles will not be tiny anymore nor depend on me for all the answers. I will remember what it felt like when they were handed to me. I will find perspective in that first moment I laid eyes on them and fell deeply in love.
QUESTION: What milestones or moments of growth have you noticed in your children lately?
CHALLENGE: Find ways to be more present and aware of the little things your kids do and say. Savor these moments that will someday be gone.
Image provided by Kortni Miller.
Just this morning I was noticing how much my 7th grader has changed this year. He has become so responsible and doesn’t rely on me for as many things as he did last year at this time. It made me a little sad, but mostly I just felt excited for how far he has come.
He is not my little baby anymore, that’s for sure. But, I do know that he still needs me in so many ways. It is so amazing to me that I get the opportunity to raise and help shape a future man, husband and father. It’s daunting and challenging but also quite thrilling. I love being a mom!
Cheryl Cardall says
This is so true! My oldest is now 14 and I miss those little moments with him, however it is so fun to see him grow into who he is becoming. All stages are difficult, but so rewarding!