How I Wish You Guys Were Still Little
How I Wish You Guys Were Still Little
They leave the house this morning ready to start another school day, my fifteen year old son bends down to kiss my forehead goodbye, much the same way I used to bend down and kiss his forehead so many years ago. My daughter, too, has to bend down to give me a quick peck on the cheek. Again, I am reminded when I had to bend down to kiss her tiny face.
This morning, however, is different. I don’t run to start the never ending pile of laundry, or to empty the perennially full dishwasher. I stand at the window watching them walk down the street and think about so many things.
I think about my brother’s words to me so many years ago when I was telling him how much I worried about my toddlers. His children are a good ten years older than mine and I will never forget his words to me, “the worries get bigger, the stakes get higher.”
At the time, I had no clue what he was talking about, but now that I am faced with raising a seventeen year old daughter and a fifteen year old son, I completely understand what he was saying. And his words have echoed in my mind a thousand times.
I think about the power struggles that have plagued my daughter and me over the past year. I think about her desire to spread her wings and my natural desire to clip them. I think about how hard I have tried in the past year to balance their need for freedom and my need to guide them.
But most of all I think about a seemingly unimportant ride I took with my son last night.
I picked him up at a friend’s house and as we were heading home he reminded me for the hundredth time that he would be getting his learner’s permit in twenty three days. “Oh Justin,” I say with a sigh, “how I wish you guys were still little, I miss those days so much.” The car is quiet for a moment, it is dark outside and the music is playing softly in the background. He asks me if it was easy being a mom when he and his sister were little.
“No, not really.” I tell him about the endless ear infections, the colic, and the two year old temper tantrums. I tell him he hated to sleep and refused to sit down to eat and how his sister was a regular visitor at the pediatrician with high fevers whenever she got the slightest bit sick.
“Then why do you wish we were little again?”
In that split second I had visions of the flawless moments of motherhood. My infant daughter and I wrapped up in a blanket on the couch taking our afternoon nap. Actually, she napped while I stared at her perfect face.
I remembered mornings spent with my son watching “Little Bear” with he and I tucked up together on the couch, and wishing the show would never end. Because, when it ended, he would be off the couch and out of arms ready to tackle life’s next big adventure.
In that moment when he asked that question, I was flooded with memories of holding their little hands everywhere we went. Of tucking them in at night and waking them in the morning to hugs and knowing that what ever we did that day, we would do it together.
And then it dawned on me. I had an answer to his question. “Why do I want you guys to be little again?” I barely whispered, “because then I could protect you.” And as I said it in the dark car that night, a tear ran down my cheek.
I finally answered the question that had been nagging at me for so long. I finally understood the restless feelings, the urges to never let my daughter extend her curfew, the anxiety I feel when either of them wants more and more freedom.
But, more importantly than my understanding the answer to that question, is that my son understood.
When I looked over at him, he gently put his arm on my shoulder and I saw a look in his eyes that told me he really got it.
Unexpectedly, I made a turn into McDonald’s, pulled in to the drive through and ordered a sundae with extra hot fudge and extra caramel sauce for us to share. Did I really need that sundae? No, of course not, I just didn’t want this time with my son to end.