It’s odd how time creeps up on you. I’m sitting here watching my son “play” with a friend of his, another 11-year-old who lives across the way. Play dates used to consist of afternoons with The Wiggles and pretend guitars, but we moved past that sometime when I wasn’t looking. Now, my son calls out “See you, Mom!” and the screen door slams before I can respond. Tablets have replaced toys that emit sounds and iPods have pushed those Wiggles CDs into the black hole we call the glove box.
There’s nothing wrong with the progression of time – except that it means I’m getting older and my time with my son is on a downhill slide. Next year will mark the start of middle school, and with that, a whole new paradigm of parenting. Just two weeks ago, Tedd declared that he wanted to start showering in the morning so the smell of his Axe bodywash would be fresh on his skin. The inevitable question “Mom, how do I tell a girl I like her?” is the most recent renovation in the life of this little boy who once fit in the spot beneath my heart. I’m so proud of the young man he’s become but at the same time I want to scoop him up and tuck him in my lap like I have for so many years.
Teaching kids this age and raising one are two very different things. It’s awesome to watch someone else’s child grow throughout the course of a school year, but it’s harder for me to see the growth in my own child until it’s staring me in the face. His chubby legs have grown into lanky limbs that end in feet now protected with men’s size 7 shoes. His hands have lost their dimples and his adult teeth are almost all in. The Lightning McQueen t-shirts have been tossed aside for skeleton hoodies and Giants jerseys. The Disney channel has been replaced with Cartoon Network.
I find myself clinging to the remnants of a life gone past and relishing small things I used to overlook. Those stuffed animals still sleep in his bed…they used to drive me crazy, but now I’m glad they haven’t given up their nightly residence. I still have to remind him to brush his teeth and wash his hands, two chores I won’t have to be diligent about much longer now that he’s becoming interested in girls. I still help him pick out his clothes, pack his lunch, and complete the homework he struggles with. I’m hanging in there, trying desperately to remain relevant in a life that’s growing more independent every day.
They said to savor every minute because it goes by so fast, but no one can understand the speed of life until they face their own mortality in the eyes of a rapidly growing child. How could I possibly know how much I would miss those midnight feedings, the tying of tiny shoes, the cleaning up of bathtub toys?
I’m trying to slow down. I’m trying to live in the moment and appreciate each stage of life as it comes. But I’m nostalgic by nature, and the past holds memories so fond I often wish I could go back and find solace in the very things I took for granted when they were the here-and-now.
That said, I wonder how long it will take for me to truly realize that I’m currently living in the past I’ll yearn for in the future…I guess old habits really do die hard.