The moment you as a mother realize that your child is really and truly no longer a baby, well, that's not anything that you can plan for. You don't know when or where or how it will dawn on you, until it does; a gust of wind escapes your lungs and you are suddenly made aware.
We tried to get pregnant for a few months and we were very blessed that the timing with our son was perfectly spot on. The faint blue lines, the ones that made me ask my sister-in-law to please come over and check for me, those little sign told me, "You are going to be a mother." For nine months I watched my belly grow, I felt the kicks and squirms and sharp elbow jabs deep in my rib cage. I saw him somersault and hiccup and while he was tucked inside my ever-growing stomach, I had no idea that someday he would say to me, "Mom, let go!"
Towards the end, if he stopped moving or was quiet late at night, I would anxiously wake my husband and ask him to please pray aloud that God would give me a sign that our baby was okay. It always worked and within seconds, our dear boy would move or roll over again, probably thinking, "Would you people leave me ALONE?"
From the very beginning, my heart was his. Crawling and the first steps, the first taste of solid food, the baby giggles that turned to laughter, the one word phrases that made us smile so big... I never realized that during those growth spurts, those stages of transitioning from baby to boy, my heart would just keep expanding. And that suddenly, the wind would be knocked out of my chest as he jumped into the in-ground pool, without a life vest, as he shouted, "Do it again!" As quickly as it started, those baby years and all the things that come with them, it suddenly ended--
those baby years.
Over. Gone. A flash before my eyes. A faint dream that grasps for the memories and moments when he needed me the most.
Who is this kid? And how did it happen? My hands frantically reached for him under the water, quickly I pulled him up for air thinking that of course, he would need it. But he didn't. He didn't need me and what I thought was him choking was actually just laughter. "Mom, let go!" he exclaimed as he swam one end to the other, down and back, doggy paddling around and around and around--
I remember the first time he got into a pool. He was a month old and he just slept, totally peacefully, as we slowly pushed him around on a float. And then when he got in my parents pool, and he would wrap his arms around my neck as I sang him songs. From zero, to one, to two, to three, and now to four. His legs are getting so long, his length makes up more than half of me. His weight is hard for me to lift from his carseat, it's getting more difficult to carry him up the stairs. My hips that carried him with ease for so long, are quickly reminding me that it won't be much longer that he will fit there.
Everyone tells you that it happens so fast but when you're in the trenches of motherhood, tired and going on very little sleep, when they're still so tiny in front of you, all you think is, "Shut it, Lady. I'm embracing it the best that I can." Or at least, I suppose that's what I always used to think, when elderly people walked past my screaming toddlers as I sprinted through aisles at the grocery store.
His daddy is 6'4'' and with me only 5'2,'' it's very obvious my son (and probably daughter) will tower over me very soon. So right now, while he still [awkwardly] fits on my hip and he still begs for me each night to put him to bed, I will embrace these days. Even if he doesn't want his mama to carry him like a baby around his grandparents swimming pool, at least he does still want me to stand on the sideline cheering, "Good BOY! Great job!" as he makes that giant splash. While I'm positive there will many more opportunities for him to declare his independence, my heart will never ever, no matter what, be letting go.