little boys should never be sent to bed. every morning they wake a day older and before you know it, they’re grown. — J.M. Barrie
when you join the ranks of parenthood, things [obviously] change. the most cliché is the measuring of time. the push by all those who have been there to enjoy the moments, even the terrible ones because they are, indeed fleeting.
oh, they are.
it is the eve of my youngest’s fourth birthday. i have no more babies. they are all big boys now. my biggest boy is quickly approaching his eighth birthday, my middle boy is quite comfortable with six and now by baby is four.
i was happily surprised by a visit from one of my oldest, and most treasured friends (though i don’t remind her of her importance to me enough). she was the one who sat with me, walked with me and made sure i got to my husband safely when my water broke for my very first baby. and that doesn’t feel like so long ago. when did all this happen? how did our 20s pass and my babies get big. her baby is almost one already and as i squeezed her precious little girl today i feel like i’ve missed much.
all ends are beginnings. all beginnings, ends. it is simply a matter of perspective. today marked the end of babies residing in my house. it fills me with the worry of what i missed. though it feels like my water broke a few weeks ago, i struggle to remember the tiny things that i will never have again. the giggles, the clean, enveloping baby smell, the need. now i am outnumbered by boys talking about farts, little people who ask interesting questions and my growing sons who are so often saying, ‘mommy, no! i can do it’!
three little boys are exactly what i hoped for. i am blessed. these are ages where i have real memories of my own childhood. there is incredible importance embedded in the time upon us. i insist on reflecting on the babies that were, and grieving quietly for their loss. the struggle in worrying that i didn’t listen enough, hug enough, cuddle enough, pause enough…i feel it; i embrace the burden.
and i am brought swiftly into the present with the knowledge that there is plenty of work to be done. there are fights to be refereed, there are lessons to be taught, there are books to be shared, there are memories to be made. there is the knowledge that i will make mistakes and these once babies are now little boys who will remember easier and question accordingly. i realize the time spent pining for my babies will only take away from the time available to enjoy my little boys.
and i’m fortunate. i had kids before some of my friends, so i have a few more years of snuggles and giggles and baby wonder. yes, my heart pulls and my uterus tugs with the envy i feel for these mamas of babes. but i have more opportunity to impart the clichéd advice of ‘enjoy every bit of them because they aren’t babies for long’. and i get to hear ‘i know’. and i get to understand that they really don’t know until it feels like it’s too late. and their time will come when they feel the thing that i do tonight. and i will relate, and i will comfort.
the cruelty of time is that it passes. the struggle with life is that it goes on. babies go to bed and they wake up older. tonight i am sad. tomorrow, i’m sure i’ll be less so because boys are busy and to enjoy them properly, you must keep up.
happy birthday, charlie-bear. you’re my littlest big boy now.