Every day, he’s a little less little boy. 

I see the transformation in the swagger he’s perfecting, so much more confident than the wobbly steps he took as a toddler.

It’s in the way the muscles of his shoulders are growing more defined, and how when he laughs I can see the outline of a six-pack across his once squishy belly.

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I hear it in his voice, as he spouts facts and figures I’ve never even heard of—I know without Googling that he’s right . . . he remembers everything.

His growth is in all the things anyone can see and hear, but it’s also in something deeper. It’s in his changing habits—the ones only I notice as his mom.

Like the way just the other night he matter-of-factly informed me he no longer needs me to lay with him until he falls asleep. “Just sing me one song and kiss my forehead, and then you can go, Mom. I can put myself to sleep now.” Tears stung my eyes as I closed the door behind me.

Or how his asking me for things has suddenly turned into him doing them for himself. I hear the clink-clink of ice falling into a cup and know he’s fetched his own glass of water. I hear the rolling of his drawers and know he’s getting himself dressed.

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And when we’re out exploring, he doesn’t look for me over his shoulder as often as he once did. The distance he’ll stray from me is growing further and further. He knows I’m there, but he no longer needs me to be within arm’s reach at all times. 

He’s growing up, and it’s beautiful and relieving and incredible and heart-wrenching.

Because with each step he takes, his stride is getting longer. And with each lengthening stride, he depends on me less. 

He’s growing into a person all his own, and although it physically hurts to think that one day he won’t really need me at all, it also helps me breathe easier—because I know his stepping away is the biggest marker of my success as his mommy. It means I’ve done right by him, and he’s learning all the things he’ll need to know to thrive on his own one day.

I pray when that day comes, he’ll still come back to me. Not because he’ll need to, but because I am his mommy and he is my son, and that will never change.

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Sometimes I catch a glimpse of him—that little boy he used to be. When he’s sleepy or when he’s had a bad dream, he’ll climb into my lap, tangle his fingers into my hair, and snuggle his cheek into the crook of my neck like he used to when he was just a baby.

I’m increasingly aware of just how precious those moments are. I realize the urgency of pushing away all distractions, setting down my phone, forgetting my to-dos . . . of breathing him in and feeling the weight of his body in my arms while he still fits there. Someday, he won’t.

As he grows, so do my pride and love. Today I’m convinced I couldn’t adore him more—but I know somehow tomorrow I will. 

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This sweet, sweet son of mine; every day, he’s a little less little boy. 

And every day, he’s a little less mine. 

Casey Huff

Casey is a middle school teacher turned stay-at-home-mama to three littles. It's her mission as a writer to shine light on the beauty and chaos of life through the lenses of motherhood, marriage, and mental health. To read more, go hang out with Casey at: Facebook: Bouncing Forward Instagram: @bouncing_forward