“Every craft I make at school, I make for you.”
“Mommy, you can fix anything.”
“You’re the best mommy I’ve ever had in my whole life.”
“Mommy, you know everything.”
“Mommy, you smell sooo good.”
These are just a few quotes off the top of my head that I can recall my oldest son, (almost 5-year old) Andrew, saying in the past few weeks.
In the quiet of tonight, after another typical day of fun times, messes, timeouts, hugs, chaos, meal-prepping, kisses, bottom-wiping, cleaning, picking up, wiping tears, laughing, and on and on and on, I reflect on these quotes and all that they mean.
To me, they mean that, for right now, I am his everything.
My younger son, (almost 3-year old) Evan, is going through a typical almost-three-year-old- separation phase. He used to walk into his preschool class like he owned it; then he’d give me a little hug, kiss, and smile, and run to his teacher, Mrs. Debye, wrapping his arms around her tightly.
Now, in the midst of this new phase, Evan’s lips start to quiver as we approach his classroom. His eyes start to tear up and, the strong boy that he is, he tries to conceal the fact that he is trying with everything inside of him not to cry.
I try to make the good-bye short and sweet, but as his face opens up into that heart-wrenching “I-don’t-care-what-anybody-thinks-so-I-am-going-to-let-it-ALL-out” cry, I hold back my own tears as I leave the room. After 10 to 15 seconds, he stops crying and begins playing. But, his initial reaction of me leaving reminds me of this: I am his everything – at least for now.
And as we approach this Mother’s Day, this is what I am thinking about. I will not be my boys’ everything forever. In fact, in just a few years, they might be too embarrassed for me to kiss them at school. Right now, that is unimaginable. But just like when they were 6-months old, the idea of them walking and talking were unimaginable, though I knew that someday that’s exactly what they would be doing. I know that someday, I will not be their everything.
They will have friends, (God-help-me) girlfriends, and I will be the person (as I should be!) in the background, looking into their lives as they mature into teenagers and eventually grown men that will outgrow and outweigh me. Again, the idea is unimaginable.
“Mommy, someday I will be bigger than you,” Andrew often says. “Yes, yes you will,” I say, smiling.
I can hardly explain the expressions on Andrew’s and Evan’s faces when I pick them up from preschool. Beam isn’t a strong enough word. Joy isn’t a strong enough description of emotion.
Andrew is typically on the swings when I get there to pick them up, and after giving a slight grin that proudly and quietly says, “Do you see how high I am pumping myself?” he slows himself down, jumps off the swing, runs to get Evan, announcing loudly, “Our mommy is here!” and runs to me with open arms. Today when I picked them up from school, Andrew ran to Evan, who was sitting near the swing set studying a handful of sand. Evan looked up at me, and the look today was different. I felt like a celebrity, like the one single person who mattered in his whole, young life. I know this is not true. My boys, like all kids, have a larger circle of love than just their moms – dads, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, friends, etc.
But at these ages – almost 3 and almost 5 – there’s nothing quite like mommy. I read somewhere (maybe a poem, a random Facebook post? I can’t remember…) about a mom who talked about being her son’s first kiss, his first marriage proposal, the first person he danced with or cried to or loved. This is how life starts, but it will not always be this way, and as we approach the one day a year when we really focus on being a mom, I am going to embrace this.
I will always be their mom. I will always be special in their lives. But I will not always be their everything. For now, I will cherish every moment of that for as long as I possibly can.