From the moment I held my firstborn son in my arms, I realized, almost instantaneously, that this wild, wonderful, unpredictably joyous journey I had only just begun would, in the blink of a moment, lead to my own planned obsolescence.
Even though my precious baby was just minutes into this world, I could scarcely bear the thought of him growing up and leaving me. Yet, as parents, if we do our jobs well, we will – one hopes – eventually become unnecessary.
Moments. As I suspected, seemingly moments later, my baby would pull himself upright and begin, with just a few, slow, halting steps across the living room, his inexorable march away from me.
Again, mere moments in time after that, he would want to drive his father’s truck, my car, the tractor. It didn’t matter – he simply wanted to GO. We would find him out in the driveway in the driver’s seat ready to roll. My baby was growing up.
Worse, he WANTED to grow up. In yet another blink of the eye, he called us all outside to watch another monumental event. He was going to ride his two-wheeler without training wheels! How brave. How strong. How heartbreaking.
Gripping. Time keeps passing so quickly and my children are, undeniably, growing up – up and away, actually. I can feel myself grasping at air as they sail away from me, each step one toward independence, even as I struggle to hold on a bit tighter.
With each day I can feel it. My grip, if only in my heart, is getting tighter even as my real grip is slipping away. What am I going to do after my children are all grown up and out of the home? What does a “retired mom” do anyway? I’m a professional picker-upper and taker-care-of.
I’ve grown used to – and embraced – being “The Mom,” and not just in weekly phone calls (if I’m lucky) or weekend-home-from-college laundry marathons.
I’m used to Matchbox cars and Beanie Babies. To, “Look, Mommy!” and, “Watch me, mom! Watch me!”
I’m used to making bologna sandwiches and cutting them into fourths, and I’m definitely in the habit of tucking my children into bed at night and talking about love, life, ladybugs and the pursuit of fairness in playground politics.
Superhero. Fortunately, even as time is flying past me at warp speeds, my son, at least for another moment or so, remains young enough to do “kid things” with me.
The other night, while trick-or-treating, we prepared to cross a street. Instinctively, my husband grasped the hand of our six-year-old daughter while I, in closer proximity, reached for the hand of our eight-year-old son.
In an instant, and without hesitation, he pulled his hand away from mine. He said, not unkindly, but clearly rather uncomfortable, “You can, uh, hold my cape mom,” as he shifted, ever so slightly, away.
My husband, instinctively, met my startled glance with his own, wry oh-please-don’t-cry look. Instead, I whispered to him, trying – and failing – to remain lighthearted, “That big crack you just heard was my heart breaking.” To his credit, he didn’t laugh.
Much later, tired and relenting, my boy – little once again – leaned into my side, wrapped his arms around me like he had countless times before, and said softly, “I don’t think superheroes hold hands with their moms, do they?”
Leaning to embrace him, his height just right to keep his head tucked under my chin, I replied with all the fervor of a true believer: “Sure they do, honey! Sure they do!” He, almost relieved, slipped his still small hand into mine.
Still. Sometimes fate throws us a small bone. If we are really lucky, time will, if only for a moment, stand perfectly still.
In this moment, my child, my baby, is 8. And, he is small. He is not 8 going on 12, or 16 or 30. He is just 8.
Better yet, he still believes I know what superheroes do. He believes, in fact, that I am the authority on such things.
My grip on time has been tight and I’m still holding on today.
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt does not like how time flies. She welcomes comments c/o email@example.com; P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460; or http://userweb.epohi.com/~kseabolt.)
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