This evening it has become painfully obvious to me that Buddy is growing up faster than I can keep up with. I feel like in all the mayhem of my daily life he’s growing up right under my nose and I’m missing it.
He’s suddenly doing things I never remember him starting. He’s developing his independence and he wants to do most things without my help.
Tonight I made dinner while Husband was out shopping with Buddy. I had the table set and the food served right when they got home. Buddy came in the house, took off his shoes and put them in their designated spot without prompting. He walked over to the table and after a little bit of a struggle he got up into his chair with his booster seat. He then grabbed his bib and held it out for one of us to put it on him. I watched all of this silently and felt a lump building in my throat. It may look like nothing to an outsider, but to me, it was like I watched my son go from Pinocchio into a real boy. I saw him in a new light.
When did this happen? I honestly don’t remember when this started. When did he become so independent? So… reasonable?
After dinner I looked at him. I really looked at him. When did he go from the boy who thrashed around defiantly when he was hungry to simply saying he was hungry? When did he do something on his own without needing my help? When did he start putting his shoes away?!
Physically, he’s grown so much already. He almost comes up to my hips. He’s had numerous haircuts now and his hair is so thick. He’s so agile now. He trips mid-sprint and after a few flailing spit-seconds he catches himself and takes off again. Last time I checked he not only couldn’t run, but he couldn’t even step over a garden hose without falling flat on his face. *When did that happen?!*
Cognitively, he’s right where he should be, but miles ahead of what I remember. He now concentrates on details he never used to. When it’s time to brush his teeth before bed, all I have to do is hand him the toothbrush and he does the rest. He brushes thoroughly, rinses his brush when he’s done, and even spits in the sink. More surprisingly, he can do almost anything I can to take care of his sisters. (ie: bottle feeding, wiping up spit-up, give them a nook etc..) More surprisingly yet, he does it for them without my prompting.
Socially, he used to be a total wallflower. He literally ran away from other kids and into my arms. Lately though he’s been attempting to open up to other kids. Yesterday was the biggest improvement I’ve seen yet. We visited a friend with a little girl the same age as him and they hugged multiple times, played together at a kitchen set and he even gave her a kiss. I looked at my little lover boy and thought *When did this happen?!?!*
Rather than getting so excited to see these new physical, cognitive and social developments, I’m so sad. Because he’s my firstborn, he’s my first everything. He’s my first sitter, crawler, walker and talker. He’s my first cold, diaper rash, flu and bath. He’s my first smile, coo, hug, kiss and snuggle. Even though he’s only 19 months, I suddenly feel like I’ve missed so much. I know it’s how it’s supposed to be. I know I did everything I was supposed to do. I helped him build his confidence. I should be proud. I should be happy.
But I’m not.
He’s only 19 months old. I still count his age in months for god’s sake. I still change his diapers. I still read him bedtime stories. I still kiss his boo-boos and hold him when he’s scared. Why does he have to be so independent already? Why does he have to be so smart already? WHY does he have to be so big already?!
He’s not relying on me as much as he used to, and I don’t think he wants to. *When did my little boy move on without me?* When I try to help him with something he furrows his brows and pushes my hand away with a defiant “I can do it!” growl. When he snuggles in my lap for the usual ten seconds, he doesn’t even fit anymore. I think about this and imagine how big he’ll be in another year and how different he’ll be then. I think about how much less he’ll need me.
It’s so hard to accept these things, especially with a boy. The hardest part of being a mother of a boy is letting him grow up. It’s no secret that once boys hit a certain age they grow distant from their Mothers. I can see this more and more every single day. I look at his sweet smile meant just for me and I cherish it. Although he can be so independent and defiant, he still needs me. He still wants me by his side. I don’t want to let him go. I want him to always need me like this.
But I know.
I know he’s going to grow out of this love for me and become a snarky (and probably arrogant or snotty) teenager. He’s going to purposely deceive me. He’s going to argue with me. He’s going to use the phrase, “I hate you!” or “I can’t wait to leave!” (Even if it’s just an eye roll, I’ll know) and it’s going to hurt more than I’ll ever admit. Worse yet, once he grows out of his “Mommy stage” it’ll be another 15-20 years before he even wants to develop a relationship with me again.
I know this will all happen with the girls too, but I don’t think it will be as hard for me. I know I’ll be able to have a closer bond with the girls than Buddy. Girls are to their mother as boys are to their father (usually).
I know I have to let this happen. I have to let him continue to grow up and make mistakes. I have to let him try new things without me. Once he’s out of his “mommy phase”, it’s game on. Although he won’t want me around as much, I want him to know that I’ll always be there to back him up when he needs me. (probably more eagerly than I’ll admit) My position will go from always being by his side, to guiding him from behind.
I will always be there for him, ready to nudge him in the right direction. I just wish he’d slow down a little bit so I can stay by his side and soak in those smiles meant just for me a little longer.