“Mom!” 

It caught me and turned me on my heels. Not Mommy. Not Momma. But Mom. He bellowed out from his room again, “Hey! Moooom!” 

I had never heard him call me just “Mom” like that before. It seems like such a silly thing to get emotional over, but I had to swallow the giant lump in my throat as I called back to him. 

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I mean, we want them to grow up, right? That’s the whole point? We are excited when they learn new things. We’re so proud of all they’re doing and the people they are becoming. Obviously, the job of a parent is to raise them upthey can’t stay little forever

But no parenting book prepares you for the day you hear “Mom” and not “Mommy.” In a moment, I felt like I lost something I can’t get back. 

What is it about their little years that makes it so hard to let go? 

Slowly, the little socks I used to marvel at when I folded them up into tiny balls are getting bigger and bigger. He wants to wear dinosaur T-shirts and play “bad guys.” He instinctively knows how to make machine noises while he plays with his trucks. More often he’s pulling away from holding my hand as we walk through the store. Lately, he also knows exactly what to do to drive me absolutely nuts. 

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His toddlerhood is fading, and every single day, he is growing into a boy. 

It made me wonder about all the other things I will soon lose, too. 

How long until he doesn’t demand I crawl into his bed with him for cuddles at nighttime? How long until he doesn’t want to sit in my lap to watch Sesame Street? How long until he stops kissing my owie when I jam my elbow into the wall? 

All these will be replaced by new secrets between the two of us, I know. It’s not like he’s off and gone away to college already.

It’s just I didn’t expect to run into thiswell, griefas he grows up. 

Because no matter how tall or big or old he gets, I think the first thing I’ll always see when he walks through the door is his blonde curls, his chubby cheeks, his beaming smile as he says, “Mommy!” I’ll see the dribbles of chocolate milk on his T-shirt, him lugging around his little backpack full of toys. I’ll see the way his back rises and falls as he sleeps. 

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And I’ll know I haven’t actually lost anything, but that my heart will be full of little moments he will have forgotten but I will remember forever.

Jill Smith

Jill is a stay-at-home mom to two toddlers and bonus mom to a teenager. Her days are spent drinking too much coffee, stepping on LEGOs, and convincing her 3-year-old there are other food groups besides chicken nuggets. You can find her at www.graceonrepeat.com or on Facebook @graceonrepeat.