I opened my Facebook account and up popped a photo memory from two years ago. My baby boy was bald with a big smile, lying on his changing table, grabbing onto and fascinated with his feet. He found them, and I seized the moment with a picture. The backs of his drum-stick thighs faced up at me, tempting me to chew on them. That smile, that pot belly, those chubby cheeks and thighs, those stubby toes and thick, Flinstone feet – all tempting me to chew on him, give him raspberries and tickle him, eliciting his baby laugh. Oh how I miss that laugh.
But I can’t have that baby back.
He’s all of 2-and-a-half now – walking, talking, running, with a mop of thick, silky brown hair on his head. His thunder thighs have been replaced with thinner, muscular legs. His toothless smile has turned into a mouth full of tiny white teeth. And that baby giggle is gone. He has a little boy laugh along with a little boy’s body. The chubby cheeks are still there, but not quite so chubby. And the pot belly has gotten longer and more muscular.
My baby is gone. He’s a little boy now.
Babies grow into little boys, who grow into big boys, who grow into teenagers, who grow into men, and it happens way too fast. I should know. My daughter is nine now, and I can see the childhood characteristics already slowly turning into adolescent characteristics. She’s growing up, and I’m taken aback that it’s happening this soon. It seems like she was a baby in my arms just a few years ago.
I’m sure most, if not all of you moms, can relate to the mystery and wonder of your growing children and how quickly it happens and the bittersweet feelings we have along the way. When we realize they are no longer a baby, no longer a little child, no longer a big kid, no longer a teenager. (Well, maybe some are relieved about that last one!)
We let them go off to kindergarten one day, and before we know it, we see them go off to college or move away. And it’s then that so many moms want to hold onto that nest – longing to hold their baby birds under their wings just once more. But it’s so hard, yet wonderful – bittersweet – to see them fly.
There are so many mature mamas with that empty nest who know they can’t go back to those baby days or those toddler years. Or those childhood days when they still wanted to play with you and snuggle with you – when they still got excited about being with you. When you were their world, and they thought the world of you. It’s a sobering, sad thought, but it’s inevitable.
But it’s also a wonderful, mysterious, and natural part of life. Those babies will fly, and these precious years you have with them is your time to nurture, train, and love them so that one day they can soar.
Now is your time to give them flying lessons.
Seize the day.
This is YOUR time, and one day soon, it will be THEIR time.
So hold those babies close, because those special, all-important moments will be gone forever.
That’s where I find myself today. Reminiscing over old photographs – like the time he found his feet. Thinking back over time and feeling thankful about how I got to see his first steps, hear his first words, and teach him his colors and manners, along with everything he knows that’s important. Taking advantage of those moments with him and truly being present, not wrapped up in social media or the other distractions of the world. That I gave him flying lessons and was there when he needed and wanted me.
Because someday, he won’t need or want me around as much. And before I know it, that beautiful baby will fly.