My only child’s ninth birthday is approaching. Half of his childhood is in the books. My day to day mom duties are half over. Where the hell did the time go? Perhaps by the time he is ready for adulthood I will be ready for an empty nest. But in the time between now and then I hope he doesn’t outgrow me.
He has outgrown picky eating. He has outgrown colorful Crocs and well-worn Converse. He has outgrown booster seats. He has outgrown high chairs and Happy Meals. Cartoons gave way to YouTube videos. Blocks were given up in favor of MineCraft. He has outgrown character underwear and his beloved Scooby Doo robe. He has outgrown needing to hold my hand in public. He has outgrown the desire to snuggle – at least not nearly as often as I would like.
Some of that growing is blissful. I do not miss being involved in every bodily function. Regretfully I used to dread kneeling on the bathroom floor faking enthusiasm for bath time. Now I would gladly add more bubbles and warm up the water for just a few more minutes and linger beside the tub until his little toes were pruney.
It is my goal to raise a responsible adult. Capable of taking care of himself and owning a sense of independence. That doesn’t mean it isn’t hard to watch it happen right before my eyes.
Everyone tells new parents how fast the time will pass. Everyone is right.
We just purged a car load of blinking plastic toys and adorable little boy clothes from our house. I won’t miss the toys, but folding those fuzzy jammies for the last time was a little tough on this momma’s heart. Oh, how I wish he still fit in them and in my arms all warm and safe.
I’m in the midst of a mid-parenting crisis. The time is ticking on this chapter of our lives. I worry that I have not imparted enough knowledge in the things that truly matter. My hope is to direct him to a life where his choices are guided by a strong faith, but we don’t always (usually) make it to church. My goal is that he knows kindness better than any academic subject, but sometimes we spend more time on math than charity.
I’m not completely naive, I know we’ll have our share of homework battles, missed curfews, and days when we are oil and water. There will undoubtedly be times when I’ll be ready for him to leave the nest. Ready to give him a shov and send him flying. My husband is already counting down the days to hitting the road in a two-seater sports car. So much adventure awaits us all. None of us knows the directions we’ll travel, but my hope is that he forever considers us his home. His safe haven. A place where he can be heard and encouraged. The place where he can always be warm and safe.
We have nine more spring breaks, summers, and Christmases before our baby is an adult. Knowing what I know now, those nine years will vanish in the blink on an eye. I desperately want to be intentional with each one of those precious fleeting days. Much the same way being at mid-life can be a wake-up call to make the most of your remaining time, this is my parenting reality check. I want to teach him well, create memories that will last him a lifetime, fill him up with goodness, and then yes reluctantly send him off into the world.
And I will remind myself and my son of one important fact: you never outgrow love.