Five years ago
Five years ago, I was bleary-eyed and lactating. Sleep was non-existent. My baby boy was fat and happy, a constant nurser and totally, undeniably attached to me. I was overwhelmed with all that had changed in my life – who I was, who I married, where I worked. My body was…other-worldly, to be kind.
Five years ago, I looked at the brightest, bluest eyes I’d ever seen and actually uttered the words “you..are…breathtaking. and you’re mine.” I was terrified of losing him. How could I ever get angry or upset at him? I vowed to protect him and love him always.
In the first year of my son’s life – and my first year as a mother – I slowly came to understand that motherhood is wrought with heartache. As much as I loved my baby boy, it was always flavored with the bitter knowledge that a job well done would end with him leaving me. As Kahlil Gibran said:
Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They came through you but not from you and though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
Five years have passed and now I find myself looking at this boy, the same bright blue eyes no longer surrounded by full, round cheeks. His cries are less frequent, less urgent in their pitch, yet I am still compelled to fix whatever is causing them as soon as possible. He is no longer a baby, yet still, always, MY baby.
I have to let him go.
Kindergarten beckons, with shiny new lunch boxes and new friends. The yellow school bus will soon descend upon our neighborhood, carting away my small, precious contribution to this world. My joy at this impending freedom – his and mine – is tempered with the knowledge that he will now to be exposed without my protection to all that is NOT great in this world. There will be unkind words from other children. He will try something, and fail. He will get the wrong answer and experience shame, embarrassment, self-doubt. He will be denied his one true desire, whatever it may be, and it will be something I can not give him. Eventually he will love, and his heart will be broken. So will mine.
Updated vaccines pierce the bony flesh at the top of his arms, a pain I know well and yet in this instant I am grateful for it. He needs my comfort. He wants me to hold him. He knows what the vaccines are for, and even though they hurt him and he is scared and trying to be brave, he understands that they are actually there to protect him. Kinda like me.
Five years ago, I was unable to see beyond the next feeding, or the nearest nap. I did not think about the day I would pack up my baby and send him out into the world while I stayed behind, hoping that I had prepared him for what he was about to face. I only thought about those amazing blue eyes.
Here is the world, baby.