I look at my now 12 year old son and think, “Seriously? How can this be? How has this happened so fast?” I remember what it was like to be a 12 year old very clearly. I remember my 12 year old self. And now this is happening. He is TWELVE. Later this year he will be in 7th grade and next year a teenager and that is enough to make me gasp for air.
Gone is the little boy who’d climb onto my lap for snuggles and ask me to draw circles on his back. He now casually walks around the house with his hands in his pockets, usually in the direction of the pantry in search of something to eat.
No longer is he enthusiastically running with Nerf guns and other assorted toy weapons tucked into the waistband of his pants. More commonplace is a smirk and side glance when he says something sarcastic that makes me laugh.
His height is creeping up to my own and soon I will be looking at him eye to eye. Was it that long ago that I was lying him down in his crib and tiptoeing out of the room careful not to step on the creaky board that would have awoken him? Can we please go back to that? Even for just a day?
I remember thinking that it would never end. That I would be in a perpetual state of sleep deprivation due to his 6 a.m. internal alarm. These days it’s me who is waking him and on the weekends he enjoys sleeping in.
He patiently helps his younger brothers with learning the ways of the world. “You’re so kind,” I say barely recognizing the young man who stands before me. I can’t wrap my head around the lightening speed at which this is all happening.
I recently found a mini composition notebook that I gave him when he was five years old. He filled it with pictures he took on his Fischer Price Kid camera that we printed out on computer paper. The collection of images ranged from shots of the TV screen of his favorite cartoons, cherished board games, family members caught off guard by his camera, and varied 5-year-old selfies. When I showed him his handiwork reminiscing about putting it together with him I asked if he had remembered doing so. He mentioned that he did and as he paged through it smiling he said, “I know this sounds ridiculous because these pictures are awful and don’t mean a whole lot but the sad thing is I hate to throw this away!” I feel ya buddy.
Those pages represent a time when those things he photographed were his whole world and that world is so different a mere seven years later. Can we just climb into the rocker, escape into a fairy tale of castles and dragons and draw circles again? Pretty please?
His childhood is slipping through my fingers. A little more each day.
I long to see those big, innocent eyes fixated on me while I sing silly songs and feed him jars of baby food. I pine for the quiet moments of puzzle building and lazy days at the park. Maybe it’s the permanence of it all with which I have such a hard time. He’ll never go back to that and those moments were so meaningful to me.
“He still needs me,” I tell myself.
“Mom, where’s my soccer uniform?” Or, “What’s for dinner?”
On rare occasions he’ll even grab for my hand while we’re walking together but I know those days are numbered. Someday soon it will occur to me that he hasn’t done so for quite some time and I may have unknowingly experienced the last occurrence with no warning.
And while my throat tightens as I type this I’m at a crossroads of both feeling an emptiness for my not-so-little boy who is about to embark on so many adventures that don’t involve me I am also grateful that I’m working at accomplishing the goal of any good parent which is to facilitate independence. To let go. It isn’t easy growing into this role of providing direction and guidance rather than protection and being center of their universe.
He’s in such a hurry and I was too. I remember that. This parenting thing is not for the faint of heart.
Don’t know if I am leaving a reply the right way but after reading your wonderful blog this morning the picture of you feeding Hunter cottage cheese (I think it was cottage cheese) came to mind–such a face he made and you had to do it twice–still makes me laugh
That video kills me every time! I love it and love you too!!!
Oh, as I read this with small joyful tears, because I too, remember the day when my two grew up, and can totally empathize! There is that instant when they’ve changed from baby to small child to a growing person and learning that person all over again in a new language that is NOT MOM and yet still kind of is, and the mentor steps in to replace the Mom Part of you and then you start the second phase of parenting where you walk the fine line of NOT openly showing affection and cuddles anywhere you go, but clench your hands for fear you’ll run your fingers thru the tangles to straighten it as he walks into school. The waiting for hugs or the rare kiss from them but randomly getting these in public any more because “my friends are looking”. It was hard for me to transition with mine. We were seriously close for a long time, and then Joe came back one year at 14 and was no longer that funny little man that Lace and I knew so well. The random hugger and such a goofy smile! But on those moments when you think you might just break out in tears and you have to hold him near, just take him aside and tell him that no matter what, YOU won’t forget the memories or him when he was younger and needed him. And your craft is THE BEST VENUE tho Oren up and share that with him. Kids get very emotional with pictures, especially the kibd you can hold in your hands. I have photo albums of all my family members. You will find that they will open a new and more sophisticated form of communication, still loving, but not so demonstrative! Bless you for sharing and giving me back a memory that was a but Dusty!
Yes! Printing is always the way to go. My kids love looking at their pictures!