Today you scraped your knee in front of everyone. I could see it all in your eyes: the embarrassment, the pain, the need for your mama but the apprehension to ask for my attention. I asked you if I could give you a mama kiss to make it feel better and you shook your head no, a slight smirk and poker face in place. A few minutes later you tapped my shoulder when all the attention was off of you, and you requested that kiss you earlier refused. You all at once broke my heart and fixed it again! I have never wanted to think of the day when you wouldn't want a mama kiss in front of other people. Your innocence is so pure and I'm grasping at your childhood like water, but it flows between my hands.
Thank you for being my sweet boy always. Thank you for forgiving me, for being my guinea pig. I'm sorry that by default, you are the one I make the most mistakes with because you are the older. I get it -- I'm the oldest, too! I know right now, I can do no wrong in your eyes. I know someday that will change. I always feel like I need to try harder to be a good mommy to you, but you let me know all the time that I am the best mama. (I'm pretty sure it's because I am your only mama and you don't know any better, but I'll take it.) I hope someday, when you realize the ways I could have been better, you will give me grace and forgiveness. I know for certain that day will come; I don't doubt it.
We just moved into our new house here in Pennsylvania, and as I was scrubbing baseboards and hanging curtains and putting your toys in bins one quiet afternoon, I had a moment. I was listening to a song written by a mother to her growing child, and I just sat there on a kid-sized chair in your dusty, empty room, and I wept. I was realizing that many of the toys I was putting away, you had grown out of. That this Christmas, I will be gifting you with smaller, more expensive things -- things with which big boys play. Gone are the days of wooden stacking toys and chunky Little People. Why are you no longer my baby, and what can I do about it?
I've never "mourned" your babyhood before, but it struck me so hard that day that my tears could only be described as mourning. I was suddenly shocked with how quickly everything has passed. When you're a child, seven years is a lifetime. When you are an adult, it's a season. It's a chapter. It's one of those things that causes you to say, "I feel like it was just yesterday." And it does, it feels so like yesterday, I believe I could almost touch it.
It was just yesterday you were lying on your belly with drool dripping down your chin to the carpet, smiling up at me as you worked those little neck muscles. It was just yesterday that you crawled for the first time to your "bup bup." (That's what you called dogs... just yesterday.) It was just yesterday that you ate strawberries in the front yard speckled with sunshine, red juices staining your naked belly. It was just yesterday that you got into the glitter, sprinkled it with reckless abandon, and swiped it all over the table, the floor, yourself. It was just yesterday that I turned around for two minutes and you used your ranch dressing and celery sticks to make a log cabin, and found the need to rub it all over your hands and face, as well. Just yesterday.
I can still feel your soft, sweet baby cheek beneath my lips as I kiss you. I can still see the little dimples on your knuckles and the one on your chin, in the quiet light of your bedside lamp as I pray for you while you sleep. It was just yesterday.
That afternoon, I cried because I'll never get those days back. I cried because, with you being my oldest, I didn't know how damn fast it would go by, and now I know, and now I wish I had cherished them more when I was going through them.
But your 7th birthday is anything but sad! It is a celebration! Because I have been able to call you my own for seven years. For seven years you have brought me light, you have been my ray of sunshine, my optimism, my example of forgiveness and love and joy! I don't know why you are so much your own little person -- despite my struggles of figuring out the kind of mama I needed to be during your toddler years, despite human mistakes and regrets on my end, you are exactly the little boy God created you to be. You are forever sweet, forever helpful, forever positive. Keep that light, my sweet boy! Hold it tight and don't let anyone make you feel different for it. It's what makes you, you. Your compassion, your positive nature, your forgiveness -- they will be your strength, as long as you let Christ be your strength.
I love you so much, my baby boy!!