Hold My Hand a Little While Longer

I don’t want it to end. And yet all around me I feel ourselves floating further and further away from these precious years.

Our baby years.

I want to capture it, bottle it, save it somehow, these precious moments that are flitting away, each time we circle the sun.

My Kinder Boy came home early from school today. Almost 6, he missed the cutoff for school last year by mere weeks. He was so upset, after watching big sissy bravely climb on that bus each day, and proudly disembark each afternoon displaying her art and creations, that he had to wait another year.

So, my little man was ready. And so was I. I was excited for him in a way that lacked the initial hesitation I felt when sending our oldest “off into the world.”

As if kindergarten is the world (don’t talk to me about college. I can’t.)

But this morning. Well this morning my little man wasn’t quite himself.

“Mommy? Can I stay home with you today?” He asked meekly.

Moms know, and I kissed his forehead unsurprised to find it warmer than usual beneath my lips. His face a little ashen, his nose a little stuffy. Kinder is hard. For them it is a world away.

So far removed from those early days of snuggles and engorgement and diaper logs and soft baby hands and that cackling newborn cry as they discover the sounds they can make to get back to their mommy. A new world outside the womb.

My Kinder Boy came out making an “Ack!” Sound. Almost like a little bird. It meant “mommy.” Minutes old and he could ask for mommy. His skin was so soft, and he was born chubby. Not like my girls, small little things that were so light. Like fairy babies.

But the doctors called him Moose. A big muscly chunky baby who astounded doctors that he even fit inside his Mama.

The day is soon coming when he will tower over me.

When I close my eyes I can still feel his baby fingers grasp for my cheek and grab (and unceremoniously pull) my hair. I can still feel the scratches on my chest as he pulled at my skin learning to nurse. Kneading. The snort laugh he did while trying to nurse and giggle atsomething ridiculous mommy did (like squeeze his baby roll filled thighs.)

And I can still see his happy cheeky smile that he proudly displayed from just weeks old. His smile that got us through so many nights in the hospital while he was sick with sepsis and then RSV as a newborn. Another new world away.

Each milestone moves them another rotation out of my sphere somehow.

Further away.

So this morning when he asked to stay home, every inch of me wanted to yell “Yes!”

But I also know he loves his friends. And his new teacher. He loves being big and doing big things. He teaches me his songs and his rhyming games and his counting and clapping syllables. He proudly yells his school lunch number that he memorized. This new world is good for him. Even as it pulls him a little further away. So I sent him anyway. His fever was below the stay home threshold and he perked up after breakfast.

I watched his bouncy little figure climb the bus steps two at a time and he blew me kisses from the window.

Every new milestone feels like the peeling away of something precious sometimes.

I miss their chubby fingers, I miss their flips in my belly. I miss their fuzzy baby hair and their coos. I miss their wobbly steps and their terrifyingly unstable full stop runs.

So I drink up every snuggle now. There are always kids in our bed at night, because soon they won’t be afraid of the dark. We read stories until our voices grow weary and our heavy eyes lidded.

I hold their little hands, because one day it will be someone else’s they will reach for. I drink up every detail they recount from their school day, because I’ve missed them too.

I memorize the way they clumsily hold their pencils, because one day they will be drawing works of art.

The nurse called us an hour before school was done. I knew it was our little man. He had a tummy ache and a fever. His teacher told us he missed his family and started sobbing after P.E.

He told me when we picked him up, that one minute he was okay, and the next, he just missed us and needed us. He needed me because he didn’t feel good.

It’s hard on them too, when their world gets bigger. As their reach increases, and they begin to explore the stars.

But they still need to feel our sunshine shining on their backs.

Galaxies are waiting for them. Sights I’ve never seen.

But please tell me, they will always come home to my orbit.

That they will always need their Mama’s hand, her hugs, her words.

That even as they grow and we change and our world gets bigger, they will remember, that for a while, Mama was their sun and they were my world.

Those early baby days.

And even now I shine my light on them as best I can, from a little further away maybe.

But it shines the same.

These precious years that are slipping by at light speed.

The days are long and hard. The laundry piles high and the crying and arguing and toys, well sometimes it’s hard to see the forest through the trees.

But there are other times when you get a clear view. Their futures are so bright. But their hands are getting bigger. They’re bodies are growing taller and stronger. And I’m so surprised by how fast it’s all gone.

Like someone sped up the sun and our revolutions around it.

You become a Mama, and you start living in dog years.

And they don’t know, that I need them as much as they need me.

And I worry, what happens when those needs change. How do I change with them.

How do I grow?

Because my world is getting bigger too. As we dance in different directions.

More time. Time I haven’t had in eight years. And I stop and wonder now that there is time to stop and wonder;

Who am I now that these babies aren’t babies? Now that I’m not engulfed by their needs and enraptured by their soft little fingers, and soft little diapers, and soft little lovies.

Their sweet baby smell replaced by shockingly stinky feet.

How does it change now that their orbit includes complex friendships, school work, sports that I’ve never played.

Now that they are becoming their own?

A new part in our journey together. A scary part for me.

Because the truth is, my little Kinder Man, I miss our family too.

When we are all on our separate ways. And I cherish the times we are all together just as much as you. Because I know they are fleeting.

So for now. I’ll hold your little hand. I’ll read you Pete the Cat until my voice is gone, and I’ll even Pop See Ko with you in the living room, until my feet are so low I can’t stand anymore.

Because time is shorter than I ever thought it was. It takes years to grow up, and in an instant it all happens before your eyes.

So please, tell me they will always hold my hand. Even when I’m old and grey and wrinkly. When it’s their hand I need to steady me.

Tell me they will always need their mama, when life presents them with too much overwhelm.

Because some days my sweet Kinder Boy, I cry too.

And I think it’s okay. It’s okay to feel it, to miss it, to be sad and happy all at once.

Sunny and somber.

As we grow and adjust into our new orbits.

Excited for the great heights ahead of them, and sad at how fast it’s all going.

I’m still learning how to be brave, encouraging them venture out into this new uncharted space for us. Brave together. As we let go a little bit by little bit so we can fly.

Even when all I want to do is keep them little, just a little while longer.

Because these little humans are the most important work I’ll ever do.

And Growing up is hard.

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