Recently, my husband dug up a video from 2010. Our youngest son was eight months old and in a walker, and you could hear me in the background repeating words, trying to get him to talk.
He was SOOOOO cute and little and bright-eyed and excited to blurt out each word on command: “da-da” and “bruh-bruh” (meaning brother). Seeing this video again, I literally cried with joy when I watched it, so I watched it over and over in disbelief. My little boy is now four years old, and he’s reading, writing his name, talking up a storm, and loving Michael Jackson music!
Where did the time go?
How I wish for that baby again and that yummy baby smell! To kiss and snuggle him endlessly and to hold him in my arms! When our kids were little, we rushed them along, pushing them to the next stage–and we were always sure the next stage had to be better than the one we were in! But when I looked at that video, here’s what I thought:
I want my baby back!
I don’t want him to grow up, go off to college and leave me.
Our older son is now approaching ten. DOUBLE DIGITS. Mercy! When he was younger, I would sometimes tell him that I wanted to give him “Baby Juice” a fantasy drink that would make him go back to being a baby. Whenever I’d mention “Baby Juice”, he would ask, “What color is Baby Juice? What does it taste like?” My imagination would ignite and I would indulge him with all kinds of descriptions, “It’s purple and yummy!” and so on. But as he got older he started to question, “Mom, I don’t think “Baby Juice” is real. I can’t go back to being a baby, can I?” Then one day he said, “Mom, there is no “Baby Juice.” I’m getting older. I won’t forget you, I promise.”
Now, “Baby Juice” is just a funny story that we sometimes laugh about. But whether I like it or not, our eldest son is growing up and maturing day by day.
Last week I went to his end-of-year party at school and when I pulled out my phone to take photos of him and his friends, he threw up his hand and said, “Please, Mom, not now.”
I wasn’t ready for that! Until now he’s always loved it when I would come to his school; and when I’d walk in, he’d smile. But now he’s beginning to want his independence; his focus is on his friends, and I get that. But it still makes me sad. I’m beginning to feel that the waves of time are moving so swiftly that in no time at all years will blow by.
Time flies, and my little boy is growing up SO fast.
If you haven’t yet, you must read Rob Lowe’s amazing and perfectly titled article “Unprepared” about his oldest son’s departure for college that just appeared in Slate Magazine. I’m having difficulty imagining my kids growing up beyond the age they are now–let alone going off to college! So I literally cried buckets reading Lowe’s beautiful and moving article in which he explains the sadness and emotional roller coaster that every parent must experience to a certain degree when their kids are leaving for college. And as I read, I could see myself reflected in his words–and that when it comes time to send my first son off to college I’ll feel the way Rob feels now; as if someone is ripping away a piece of my heart.
So if you haven’t picked up on it yet, I’m a really emotional Mom!
I love to dote, snuggle, kiss, and call my kids tons of silly nicknames. I take thousands of photos and videos. I save everything they’ve made; every single piece of paper, every piece of artwork they bring home I consider it a masterpiece because “my baby made this!” I don’t want to miss anything – milestones, events at school, games, recitals. You name it; I’m there. I’ve even peeled back my career significantly so I can be home with my boys to shuttle them to activities and to be available when they want or need me. For now it works, and I never regret that I’m there when my oldest needs to talk to me about something that happened at school or when he has a pressing question (“Mom, what is puberty?” “Is “gay” a bad word?”). And at the end of the day when I pick up my 4 year old from school and walk in his classroom and hear him squeal “MOOOOOOOM” followed by his little bear hugs, my heart immediately starts to sing and do a little dance.
Now, lest you think I’m just a total softie, I still reap significant joy from watching my kids grow, progress and meet milestones. I’m a big advocate of my children becoming independent as soon as possible. And because I am the mother of boys, I am well aware that my job is to prepare them to fly and soar so they’ll become strong, happy, dedicated and successful fathers like my husband and my dad. I know I can’t over coddle or spoil my sons and impede their march to manhood. I don’t want to create Mama’s Boys; I want my sons to one day enjoy healthy relationships with their girlfriends, and then their wives. So I take great pride in pouring my all into them so that they can be their very best. Being a parent is extremely gratifying especially when you can start to see the trees bear fruit.
So for now, I’m enjoying my “trees” being small, but growing sprouts that I’m still watering and loving and caring for daily–even when I’m frustrated, running low on patience and it feels as if my precious boys are tap dancing on my last good nerve!
But when I look at the big picture, the takeaway for me is this: slow down and savor every precious, yet fleeting moment of our lives.
As our sons grow up and college approaches, maybe I will find myself counting down the seconds to F-R-E-E-D-O-M (WOOO HOOO!) but for now, I’m super attached to these little rascals who on some days drive me crazy. I wouldn’t have it any other way…
But I confess that on some days, I just want to pour two big glasses of “Baby Juice”, wave the magic wand, and turn back time!
Then: Oldest son!
Then: Youngest son!