It wasn’t that long ago that you had your very first haircut and suddenly you were transformed from a baby whose soft loose strands flowed unbridled over your forehead to a little boy with blunt bangs that framed your sweet face. With a few snips of a stranger’s shears, you irrevocably aged and for the first time I had the sense that your childhood would be elastic, sometimes stretching for endless periods of time only to suddenly snap back, painfully reminding me how quickly time flies.
When you cut your first tooth, it was all we could talk about that week, knowing that your smile would never be that same gummy, drooly delightful grin. We suffered as one by one each baby tooth erupted to form a string of mini-whites, only to fall out once again. The tears you cried as the pattern of your smile changed, sometimes weekly. Today your teeth are covered with metal as your smile is perfected once and for all. I thought it was perfect from the very beginning.
That first set of big boy underwear looked so strange on your tiny tushie. But you were so proud of the Super Man pattern that we bought you the cape to match. Still it didn’t take long before you wanted to wear boxers like your Daddy. And soon went the superhero logos in favor of skateboards or basketballs and then only stripes or plaids.
I once sat on the edge of the tub, scrubbing your hair and your tiny toes. Do you want “special bubs”? I would ask, knowing the answer was always yes! And I would gather the foam from your head in my hands and plop a big glop of bubbles on your belly. Soon I was sitting on the edge of the toilet lid as you showered, reaching in to wash your hair. Special bubs? You couldn’t resist. Eventually, you showered by yourself and instead of asking if you wanted special bubs, I asked if you remembered to use soap. Then I stopped asking anything because you didn’t need to be asked about your showers anymore.
My shoulders were once constantly stained with your spit up or your tears. Bodily fluid was my best accessory. If I could, I would soak up all your pain and discomfort right there, holding you, rocking and soothing. I think I felt most like a Mom when you were sobbing uncontrollably about something you couldn’t control. And I could always make it better. I can’t remember the last time you had a good cry – on my shoulder or anywhere else for that matter. But I can still make it better if called to duty. I promise.
Remember when you used to be frightened by that one episode of Blue’s Clues? You would run from the family room and watch it, half eyed from the doorway. Nowadays I can’t seem to tear you away from Call of Duty, Black Ops.
Your midnight visits into our room, when you would furrow between Daddy and I after waking from a bad dream, have been replaced by my midnight shout outs down the hallway to “please go to bed already – its late!” Its getting harder to tuck you in at night when I find myself fast asleep hours before you lay your precious head on the pillow.
You used to stand on my feet and hold my hands as we walked around the house. Now your feet are bigger than mine. For 13 years I looked down on you lovingly. Today we see eye to eye, though not always literally. And tomorrow I will look up to you in more ways than one, I am sure of it.
That scrawny, skinny beanpole of a kid whose pants wouldn’t stay up without a belt is now rather buff. Your jaw has squared and your voice has dropped . No one mistakes you for me on the phone anymore. There is a shadow under your nose that I can no longer blame on chocolate milk.
My kisses on your face no longer linger. One smackeroo and done, square on the cheek – because anything more tender or longer or elsewhere would feel inappropriate for reasons I will never be able to explain.
I have watched you grow, every single inch of you. No change has escaped me no matter how small – from the look in your eyes to the texture of your hands to the curve of your knees. During this time, my hair has started to turn gray, my laugh lines have emerged, my belly has turned to jell-o. I fret less over the decisions that I make for you and more over those that you make for yourself. I doubt you have noticed any of this – nor should you have. Your day will come, my love.
I was never one to exude wonder about becoming a parent. Never called you a “miracle” when you were born. Never marveled at your childhood or what I created. It felt more natural, less magical, along the way. Now, as you are poised to tower over me, I rewind to a time when you fit squarely on my forearm – all 19 inches of you. And I am in awe.
And now I know. Making a baby wasn’t the miracle. Making a grown up was.