“Let me do it,” you said, as I attempted to help you get your feet out of your pajama pants that were stuck at your ankles. It was something I had helped you with hundreds of times before, and I never thought anything more of it. It’s second nature, me helping you when I see you struggling with something. And even though you were starting to get frustrated because you just couldn’t get them off, you still refused my help and insisted you do it by yourself.

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I sat back and watched you independently get the pants off, and I couldn’t help but wonder where my baby boy went. You’re gaining more independence every day, and sometimes it’s hard for me to accept. It’s hard to accept that you no longer need me to get you dressed and undressed. That you don’t always want to hold my hand when we’re walking down the block. That you no longer need my help to climb the playground at the park.

I’m so used to helping you that I’ve completely missed the fact you no longer need your mama for everything.

And while I’m so proud of the little boy you’re becoming, my heart breaks a little more every time I realize this. Every time you tell me, “I can do it.” Every time you insist you’re a “big boy.” I know the time will soon come when you no longer need me to tie your shoes or carry you home when your little legs are too tired from walking. And I just don’t think my mama heart can bear it.

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It’s my job as your mother to teach you how to be independent, and while it’s an amazing feeling to see you accomplish so much on your own, I also wish I could keep you as my little baby forever. That I could freeze this time with you and enjoy these toddler years for just a little longer. That you didn’t have to grow up a little more every day right before my eyes.

But the harsh reality is you’re growing more into a little boy every day, whether I would like to admit it or not.

I still see the tiny newborn I brought home from the hospital every time I look at you, and my heart breaks a little more every time I realize you need me a little less every day.

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These past three years with you have been a roller coaster of wanting to keep you as my baby forever, yet at the same time anxiously waiting to see all of the amazing things you will accomplish in your life. And I’m just not ready to let you go yet. I’m just not ready for you to stop needing me.

Rachel Zeko

Rachel is a special needs therapist turned stay-at-home-mom to two little ones. She enjoys being outdoors, chasing around her toddler, and writing about the joys of motherhood.