Today is one of those days. One of those milestone days.
The ones that make you stop and appreciate the little bits of baby still left on your preschooler’s face, the fine babyish creases in their small (but suddenly big) hands, the still wonderfully innocent smell of sunscreen and sweat that emanates from their still easy-enough-to-carry little bodies.
One of those days that keeps pulling my mind backward, leaving me in awe of the present. The unbelievable length of his limbs, the rate and volume at which words enthusiastically fly out of his mouth. His “language”, once full of lazy R’s and mispronunciations is set apart by a subtle lisp now. He speaks full sentences. Conveys full thoughts. He shows insecurities. Uses filler words like his mom (because, like, it happens) and makes smart ass jokes like his dad. He wears little boy shoes and sounds out words in the backseat of the car on his way to and from school.
He’s nowhere near adulthood but some days — like today — it sure feels imminent.
This afternoon, he’ll graduate from preschool.
He’s undeniably and markedly closer to adulthood than he’s ever been. But, even on days like today, when the passing of time is looming particularly close, it’s not adulthood itself that’s unsettling, it’s the massive amount of day-to-day moments that will get us there. It’s the heightened awareness that so many of those moments will “fall between the cracks”. It’s the glum realization that every moment – obsolete or major and everything in between – has the potential to be a moment I’ll ache to experience for just 30 seconds more as soon as next year. It’s fundamentally understanding of the value and power of an ordinary moment.
Days like today, I have to remind myself he still loves hugs. He still asks for kisses. Every now and then, I still get to wake up to his head claiming a small spot on my pillow. He still fits on my lap. He still runs alongside his imagination and letting it get away from him from often. He still sees his elders as heros. He still believes in magic. And he snuggles like it‘ll save the world. And maybe it will, it’s definitely saved more days than I can count.
The last few weeks have really tried my strength as a parent. We found out Bot needed glasses so he doesn’t go blind in one of his eyes. Glasses are nothing if not ordinary but it sure didn’t feel like it that day. Matty went to kindergarten round up days later where I was stopped at the door and kindly turned away. “We’ll see you at 11:30, Mom!”
I watched as my 4-year old hesitatingly walked away with people I’d never met, into a building I’d never explored. I could have asked a million questions, I could have even insisted to go along but instead I walked back to the car and cried alone, over a half-eaten bag of Cheetos. Parenthood is nothing if not glamorous.
What was once just my journey into motherhood has become two intertwined journeys, his and mine. Up until now, independent has been an adjective I’ve used to describe my kids in times of boldness but never in a literal manner. Today, I use the word independent to describe him, independent of me, with a heavy, grateful and hopeful heart. This milestone, as simple and unceremonial as it might be, is the very beginning of his life without me. And it’s days like today that make me stop and appreciate the little bits of baby still left on his boyish face, the fine babyish creases in his small (but suddenly big) hands, the still wonderfully innocent smell of sunscreen and sweat he carries home from preschool, the dirt and paint he wears proudly on his clothes and under his nails, the enthusiastic stories he can’t wait to share at the end of each day and the mornings I get to wake up to his sweet morning breath and his boyish feet tucked under my body for warmth.
Someday I know my heart will ache thinking back on today and I’ll yearn to turn back the clock and experience just 30 more seconds of everything. Because it’s just one of those days.
One of those milestone days.