Sunday, September 28, 2008
On the eve of Mason's second birthday he found himself in a brand new bed -- a queen-sized bed, in fact. But for some reason he struggled to fall asleep. So, I went upstairs to check on him and ended up having a sleep over. As I watched him -- at 1 a.m. -- rub his eyes, pick his nose, pat his own head, stick his finger in his ear, rub his nose, again, and purse his lips, smooth out his blanket, and fidget with his pillows, I was amazed that he was already 2. I've known for quite some time that he was not a baby anymore.
He's been trying to tell us this for at least six months. But it was never so clear as it has been this past week. At the family birthday party he strutted around the house in all his 2-year-old-ness. While on vacation we watched as he explored his grandma's house with interest, all the while concocting new ways to get into mischief. At his great-aunt's house he settled in with some superheroes with ease. And with his cousins he confidently ran with the pack.
At home he has staked his claim, as well. At the gym daycare he is the big boy who shoots spiderman webs at every little girl within his arm's distance. He is king of the couch -- jumping and diving on top of and underneath sofa cushions -- much to my dismay. At mealtimes he eats twice as much as his older brother and he always finishes his milk. He's a BIG boy.
When my children meet these life milestones I am reminded of a conversation I listened to. One of my mother's oldest friends was admiring her grandchildren and told her (and the rest of us sitting in the room) that we think these precious children will be ours forever. But that we are wrong. That in time they move on, and leave us behind.
Her comments were met with polite disdain and hidden disagreement. After her departure some of the other mothers said she was wrong. But the more I think about it, she is right. While we may always hold our children in our hearts, they are not ours. They have their own personalities, their own free wills, their own freedoms. And some may say they are children of God, not really mine at all. No matter what I believe and try as I might, I can't take these wonderful rights away from them. It is my joy to watch them forever, love them forever, even know them forever. But keep them? Shelter them? Guard them? One day, in time, they will do that for themselves.
All I will have is my memory, my experience, my love. Forever and every day. I can't help being melancholy at the thought that they don't belong to me, per se. But I am proud each moment they show me what they will do with their individual birthright.