This year you left me. Well, okay, you didn’t really leave, per-se, but part of you has gone. You’ve crossed over to the other side, where you’ve become less of my baby, my son, my firstborn, and more of the teenager, the hairy man-child, the tall and independent adolescent.
I watched you walk into your new high school, tall, handsome, confident, but still a bit shy, and although I was so proud of you, I still felt a sense of loss that day.
We had a very difficult time the day you were born. You were a big baby, almost ten pounds and twenty-three inches long. I was in labor for many hours, and after three of those hours trying diligently to push you into the world, the doctor stuck a suction cup on your big (really if I’m being honest here), HUGE head, and plucked you out like a Dyson sucking up a ping pong ball.
You came out the size of a three month old, orange (jaundice), and with a perfectly shaped cone head. It was as if I’d given birth to a gigantic alien baby that, in certain lights, resembled a Malibu Barbie with a triangle-shaped noggin. But I thought you were the most beautiful creation I’d ever seen in my entire life.
That night, lying in the hospital bed sleeping, I dreamed of you. I couldn’t believe I had carried you inside me for all those months, and finally, you were there. My heart was so full of love, I almost couldn’t breathe.
Because of the difficult labor and birth, you were born with something called a “pneumothorax”, which, as the doctors explained, was sort of a hole in one of your lungs. You were having trouble breathing, and you couldn’t eat. I had wanted to nurse you right after you were born. Instead, the doctors and nurses rushed you to the special care nursery so you could be looked after and put under a light to cure your jaundice.
Your dad and I didn’t get to take you home with us right away. You needed extra care, and the nurses explained that they would watch you all night long, that you would be safe and they would feed you my pumped milk with a little bottle. I was devastated. I wanted to take you home. I wanted you with me. After all, I’d had you with me every single day for the past nine months. I wasn’t ready to let you go.
Your dad and I didn’t sleep much that night, and couldn’t wait to finally go back to the hospital to pick you up and bring you home. I still, to this day, thank God for those doctors and nurses who took such good care of you and helped you to become the happy and healthy boy you are today.
We struggled with breastfeeding. It was tough, but we eventually figured it out. I was happy and relieved when you finally got the hang of nursing. I nursed you until one morning, when you were ten months old, I brought you downstairs for your first feeding of the day, and you wouldn’t eat. I tried different moves and maneuvers, thrusting my breast at you, hoping you’d take it, but you were having none of my nonsense.
You were done. Finished. Complete. No more nursing.
And that’s you, my boy. You know what you want when you want it. At that moment, I realized you were making your very first decision as an independent, free-thinking, little human being who already had his own thoughts, wants, and needs.
That’s how it’s been with you from day one. Each year you grow, you need me just a little less. You’ve come from needing help with staying in the lines coloring in kindergarten, to help writing a story in third grade, to help with styling your hair in fifth grade, to advice about friendships in eighth grade, to doing your own laundry, snapchatting with girls, and spending more time alone as a teenager. How am I supposed to get used to all of this?
We are starting to talk about colleges, and tomorrow you are taking the PSAT at school. You took a girl to Homecoming this year. You care about what you wear, how you look, and how your breath smells- all good things, but all signs that you are growing up much too quickly. At the very least, you are growing up faster than I’m able to adjust.
Slow down, my love. Don’t leave just yet. I still need hugs and snuggles. I still need a midnight snack with you while we talk about funny videos you like to watch and weird stories you’ve heard in the news. I’m not ready to let you go.
I’ve got a few more years with you until you go off to college, so keep holding my hand in the car, keep texting me before you go to sleep at night, and don’t forget to ask me to make you my famous grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup for dinner when you need something warm and comforting.
Go ahead and wake me up at night if you have a stomach ache, and feel free to interrupt me while I’m working if you really just need to talk. Time moves too fast, and I want every single, precious moment I can get with you before you become and adult and start your own life.
Just remember, no matter how close or far you are one day– I love you, my son, for now and always.