Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Birthday Note to My "Bear"

{Emotional Advisement: Pregnant women need not subject themselves to the unecessary sappiness that follows.  If you are sufferring from postpardem or empty-nest syndrome, please feel free to skip to the next post.  The following tribute is to my firstborn and may cause a few ridiculous tears or the possible gag-reflex.  Please bare with me through the trauma of losing my baby boy to the startling reality of big-boyhood.  I reserve the right to sentimentality on this day every year for the next 5 decades.}

Yesterday morning as we walked toward your school, you let my hand go and told me you didn't need to hold it. I saw you look at some of the older kids - two girls standing by the gates - when you asked me for your bookbag and lunchbox. You slipped one on and took the other in your hand, you who usually complain that they're too heavy and can't I please just hold them for you?

You will not remember this moment, but I will. It's the first time you pull away from me, the first time ever that you don't want to hold my hand not out of rebellion, but because others are watching. I say nothing. I go along with this as if it's all perfectly o.k., when really, my heart is deflating.

As we near the school building, you reach over and grab my hand. Again, I say nothing, but you smile up at me when I give it a little squeeze. Oh, I realize that very moment, he's not quite ready to let go.

But the point's been made: you've turned a corner, and the desire to pull away from me has been sparked.

Away, not apart.

I say this more for myself, so that I don't completely lose it.

I'm not wholly surprised; I believe a big part of my job as your mother is to help you grow away from me as confidently as possible, and I've been working on that for years now, all those moments when I help you learn something or push you to figure it out for yourself or tell you you can do it, it's o.k., and hold you to it, refusing to rescue you. But still, that first sign from you that the shift I knew would come is glimmering in you, and - wow. A mom can't ever fully prepare for that, I guess.

Sweet boy, you're so bright and quirky and stubborn and chatty and sensitive and full of laughter. I love the way your sense of humor is growing, and that you want so badly to be good and helpful. I love how free you are with your affection, and the way your face betrays you when you do something you're not supposed to.

You drive me nuts with your constant challenging, with the way I have to repeat things like 3,000 times, with the moments where you make dumb choices and I have to let you feel the consequences of your actions.

You are maddening and the source of so much worry and frustration and wonder and elation. And every day my love for you deepens, and the jolt of that truth when it hits me never fails to startle me, because I thought I already loved you more than humanly possible.

And so, with you turning five today, I understand that I must help guide you through this new phase of your growth toward independence. I have to be o.k. with you pulling away, encourage you sometimes, even. I have to show you in whatever way I can that you can do it and that I believe in you, so you should believe in yourself, too.

But no matter what, I'll always be ready and willing to hold your hand, and yes, I'm going to give it a little squeeze.

Happy Birthday, my precious big boy. Whether you are five or fifty, you will forever be my little “bear”.

1 comment:

  1. What a way with words!! I'm not pregnant, suffering from post-partum OR empty nest and this certainly tugged at my heart.