As I rocked my sweet, youngest baby for the millionth time watching him slowly drift to sleep, I was suddenly taken back.
What happened? How did Father Time sneak so much time past? Wasn’t it just yesterday that he was an infant, desperately counting on me to fulfill his every need? Now he’s almost two-years-old.
I remember every blissful, sleep-deprived minute in between, and I’m so thankful God chose me to be his mother. But could we slow down, please? Just for a little while. I want to watch his tiny belly lift and fall with every breath. I want to bottle that enticing baby smell and breathe it every moment of my life. I want to capture his infectious giggle for every rainy day between here and eternity.
Time refuses to slow and I’m faced with the most difficult blessing I could possibly imagine: letting go.
You see, my job isn’t to hold him in my arms forever. My job is to teach him to spread his wings and fly high.
Sure, I can fill him with support and love and comfort him when he falls, but then I have to help him to his feet and encourage him to walk again.
I have mixed feelings every time he starts a new adventure. For instance, when he learned to walk I beamed with pride… but I kind of wanted to tip him over, too. I think a subconscious part of it is fear, really. I know how to be a parent to my babies. When we decided it was time to have a family we envisioned a house full of small children running around happily. We pictured all the firsts and dreamed of holding them close.
I suppose I wasn’t quite ready for phase two. Now that I’ve taught him that he’s always safe in my arms and that I will always be by his side I have to teach him it’s okay to wonder ahead and explore. I can’t be his helicopter, hovering over and hindering his natural desire to learn and grow. It’s my responsibility to teach him to be a man, a father, and a contributing member of society.
Right from wrong, love and kindness, self-sufficiency and stability – these are lessons I must teach.
Suddenly, parenting becomes so much bigger than the diapers and feedings. As I’m writing this I’m welling with tears. Am I really capable of all of this? Can I really give him all he needs?
I can and I will. No matter how hard a stage may be or how much it hurts me to see him learn something the hard way – I’ll love him enough to do it. That’s what it really takes to be a great parent. It’s not breast or bottle. It’s not co-sleeping or cribs. It’s adaptation. It’s the willingness to sail the changing tides – and true, unshakable love; the kind of love that move mountains.
But, just as spring turns to summer, another season of life knocks at the door.
I may not feel ready for it, but it is coming.
Still, I wish I could savor these moments just a little longer. He’s not far from the end of his rocking days, and I will truly miss them.
For now, I’ll breathe in his innocence and stare as his closed eyes as he drifts away, safe in my arms.