Once upon a time there lived a man and a woman. They loved each other very much, and they got married. Then they had a baby. And somehow that baby grew and got teeth and learned sign language and started walking and fell off the bed and learned to talk and is now counting down the days until he can go on the school bus.
Four years ago Friday, I gave birth to my first child. He weighed a little more than a bag of sugar. Light as a feather, yet the heaviest responsibility I have ever known. I look at his newborn picture, eyes tightly closed, left hand curled beneath his chin, I see the monkey-like face of an infant just as much as I see the the hazel-eyed preschooler that sits at the table inventing ways to ask for more food (oatmeal, not pot roast. Not liking the pot roast). I think of how he used to wake up every two hours at night, all night, until he was almost two. I remember him pulling himself up to nurse standing up in his crib, while I stood there, wanting to cry for lack of sleep.
But then, his face. Oh, the beautiful face of a child in the morning, smiling at his mother. Me with my unwashed hair, smudged glasses and no bath in two days (unless you count getting splashed while bathing him in the sink after a blowout diaper), and yet he looks at me as if I am the most beautiful thing he has ever seen. And smiles.
And now he’s four and he begs me to go on the school bus. And I think of how time has sped up since his birth, how the seconds must be ticking by faster than they used to, because he is such a big boy. He wants to hold your hand before bed, but not every night. How long until there are no more bedtime stories, no more smooches, no more, “Mommy! I need to hold you.”
So I cry, but I know I will be there for the journey. I will let go when the time calls for it, I will allow him the freedom to grow and learn and become a man. But the joy of seeing him grow will not come without a little sorrow.