Column – Growing up is hard, watching it is harder

As your kids grow more independent you realize they don't need you as much, and it sucks.

How does it happen?

OK, fine, I get “how” it happens: days turn into weeks, weeks months, months years and then BLAMO your baby boy is no longer a baby.

In fact, he’s no longer a toddler, or even all that small. He’s now six, closing in on seven, with a penchant for anything high-octane, the ability to make me belly laugh with a simple phrase and a temper I swear he gets from his nana.

It’s already happening, the whole independence thing, the fact I am no longer his first choice for a playmate.

I remember the first time he choose to ride his bike with his buddies instead of making playdough with his mom; I recall clearly the instance he told me “you can make the cupcakes by yourself, I make a mess anyway” as he hopped off the stool and headed for the front door.

Ouch.

I’ve spoken to other moms and dads about the inevitability of our “babies” no longer being babies and surely our conversations are the same ones my mom had, her mom had, and on and on.

I was warned for hours on end about child birth and how “my whole life would change” once Seb was born. I was OK with all of that. Well except for these stretch marks, they need to GET.

But no one prepared me for how I would feel, how my heart would squeeze every time I watched him sleep, or how his snippy remarks and insane skills at driving me bonkers would leave me wanting to rip my face off and slightly in awe.

Or how lying in bed with him Saturday morning, with his head on my chest and his hand in mine would be, by far, the most peaceful place I could ever pray for.

And then, of course, with age comes all sorts of realizations and the linguistic skills to convey these observations.

“Mama? How come you have so much white in your hair?”

“Mama? Your bum is hangey-downey.”

“Mama? How come you have lines even if you’re

not smiling?”

Good grief child!

1) “Baby, I am getting greys because I worry about everything from deadlines, to bills, to my friend’s problems, to your college fund, to you getting you license (anxiety at 92 per cent) to the environmental and economic impacts my generation will bestow upon yours.”

2) “Love bug, the reason my derrière is no longer perky is because my metabolism slowed down to a slug’s pace after I hit 30. I also really like eating and red wine and could certainly benefit from some serious squatting sessions, but those things really hurt… so nah.”

3) “Those lines you see? Refer to answer one. Plus add the fact that while you’re snoring and drooling your way through a 12-hour sleep, I’m lucky to get six.”

And you know what? I love it. I really, really do.

I once read this quote: “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”

It truly is. It’s the most terrifying, anxiety-ridden occupation on the planet – and it’s amazingly rewarding.

And while change is inevitable, I also realize that while I will always think of him as my baby, he too, will always think of me as his “mama.”

“Can you walk me to the door?” he asked this morning.

“Sure, yeah, of course,” I answered puzzled.

We walked side by side, me resting the urge to lick my thumb and wipe the jam from his cheek.

And then I felt his hand slide into mine.

I looked down at him and winked, he attempted one back but only managed to  blink both eyes rapidly a bunch of times.

I laughed and he joined me and as he spotted a buddy and I bid him adieu, his hand dropped from mine as he sprinted off.

Walking to the car I heard a rustle behind me and turned.

“Mom!” he huffed as I slowed.

“I love you.”

“I love you more,” I said, bending to kiss him.

It is moments as simple and perfect as those that make walking around for the rest of my life with my heart outside my body so completely worth it.

Autumn MacDonald is editor of the Observer.

 

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