They’re getting away from me.
When did it change from them holding MY hand to me holding THEIRS?
My baby, seven and a half, spiking up his hair and wearing his favorite Santa Claus socks year round. He’s always wiping my kisses off his cheek with the back of his hand. Yelling at the TV, pestering his sisters, snuggling the dog. Throwing balls, skipping rocks, jumping scooters and bikes and ripsticks. Running away, giggling, when I try to smooch him goodnight. But still he snuggles me and sticks his two fingers in his mouth when he’s really tired. He’s kind and he loves little babies, even though he won’t come out and say it. He’s not scared to go outside by himself or upstairs by himself anymore. He’s brave and he’s fast and he’s strong and he’s hilarious and he’s so smart.
My littlest girl, so beautiful and sweet and soft-hearted. She wants so much to cuddle and hug me all the time. She likes to bake and draw and create things. She’s taken off with reading and she doesn’t need me to do it for her anymore. She loves comics and Calvin and Hobbes and Charlie Brown. She’s teaching herself to cook and if she needs to know how to do something, it isn’t always, “Mommy, will you…?” anymore. She just looks it up herself or she watches a video and she figures it out herself. She jokes that she is still “her own self’s girl” like when she was little. But she still looks to me for attention and to tell her that it’s okay. That she’s doing things right. That I love her. I worry sometimes that I don’t tell her enough just how much.
I feel like they’re growing so fast. That they’re literally running away from me at lightning speed and there’s absolutely nothing that I can do about it. That life is snowballing faster and faster and they are on. their. way.
And I love them so much it makes my heart feel like it’s going to explode.
And even still, I get so mad and I lose my patience and I say mean things to them and I fly completely off the handle and lose my mind when I can’t find my tape that’s supposed to be in the kitchen drawer next to the scissors because they stole it. AGAIN. Seriously.
They leave messes behind them, they leave wrappers and straws and crumbs and shoes and socks and pillows and blankets and Barbie dresses and broken Legos in their wake. They leave hairbrushes and toothbrushes and sticky spots of juice and glue and silly putty and melted popsicles. They leave behind cups and plates and dirty forks and hairbows and Nerf darts and purses and jackets and little piles of rocks and sea glass and coins.
But the messes, the piles and piles of laundry, the toys, the trash, the dishes, the clothes, the schoolwork, the books, the football gear, the craft supplies… it’s all a part of them and their childhood. Why does it make me absolutely crazy, but at the same time, sad? Sad that I know one day it will all be gone and I will miss the bright green slime on my kitchen table and the popcorn in my couch cushions?
My Josie, with her impish grin and the eternal sparkle in her eyes, the little dimple on her cheek and her freckles and her chipped tooth and her innate sense of style. She’s busy teaching herself the ukulele and cursive and reading giant books. She wants to learn how to weld and go skydiving. Her love of babies and her thrill-seeking, live-in-the-moment, life is beautiful nature is simply infectious and magnetic. She still will hold my hand in the parking lot, and she doesn’t care one bit who sees her do it. She says “swet dwems” to me every night. She wants to save everyone and help everyone and stop everyone from crying and rid the world of injustice and do all of the right things – and some of the wild and crazy things.
And my firstborn. She steals my shoes and my hair clips. She sits for hours with her sketchpad. She’s always surprising me with her ability to be like me and like her dad at the very same time. The way she watches people – studies them to decide if they are worth her time and effort or not. The way she doesn’t need to please anyone or need anyone’s approval. She knows what she likes and what she doesn’t. She thinks deeply and she cares about things, even though sometimes you would never know it. The big ideas and dreams that she has, and the way she straddles the line between childhood and womanhood, and she takes it all in stride. The way she seems to need no one at all … sometimes not even me. She seems so independent and strong and sure of herself that sometimes I don’t even recognize her. And sometimes I envy her.
And I sit here and think of wasted opportunities that I’ve had to be with them. I think of how now it’s happening so fast and now they want to go hang out with their friends and they want to go listen to music in their rooms and all of a sudden, there they go. Without me.
And I want to hold on to them so hard. I don’t want them to go.
Have I done this? Have I somehow helped to create these … these amazing people? Where did they even come from? Where are my chubby-cheeked, toothless, jumping, squealing, reaching, drooly babies? Have I really traded them in for these four PEOPLE? People whom I barely recognize sometimes as they grow up and up and up and away from me?
I used to hold them, carry them… swing them up in the air. And now, they tend to hold ME. They come and tuck ME in, because I’m tired before they are! And I’m so glad they are mine.
I just want them to stay mine a little bit longer.