Do you remember when you brought your babies home? And you were so in love, you would lay for hours next to them, their bassinet tucked as closely to your side of the bed as possible, and suddenly realize you weren’t sleeping even though you really should be. But you just couldn’t quit watching. Their little breaths so calming and soothing to your soul. And, it somehow felt like if you didn’t watch them during this magical time and you fell asleep, you’d wake up and none of it would be real.
My boys are eleven and nine now. It’s pretty rare than anyone is sleeping with us unless they are sick. Or anxious. Or scared. And those times, while still precious to my mamas heart, end with the shoving back and forth across the bed and wondering how one so small can take up so much room and put off so much heat. A grownup always ends up on the couch and the child splayed across an entire king size bed. These moments are sweet and are fodder for parental bonding the next morning. “I know! How could his feet be in my kidneys while his legs were across your neck?”
But, now is the time of summer. The boys and I start to have sleep overs at PopPop and Nana’s house and the three of us climb into the queen size bed that still seems unfamiliar to them. It’s the time of summer, when I realize when they strip down to their boxers and athletic shorts how long they’ve gotten this year, how lean. Their tans from hours of playing outside and swimming are coming back. Their hair will soon be a half shade lighter from hours of swimming. They are already a half a year older.
They don’t need me for much these days. They can fix a rudimentary meal of cold cereal and chocolate milk, or a grilled cheese from the toaster. They play with each other, rely on each other more and more. Less on me for their every need. This is what we work toward as mamas. It’s silmultaneously exhilarating and excruciating.
I don’t take photographs like I should. My husband tends to always have the camera, and I take selfies with the boys. I’m almost always tempted to delete them, but I don’t. Somedays, I sit down to work at the computer and am blindsided by the scrolling photo album of our life. Hubs and I being young, carefree and childless. Then, Baby One. Two years later Baby Two. Now? They are nine and a half and eleven and a half. They will be in fourth and sixth grades. It’s hitting me hard. That. Sixth Grade. My first born isn’t a baby anymore. His days of coming to my room are going to be fewer and fewer.
So when they argued over who got to sleep next to me last night, I pretended to fuss at them and let Big win. My first born. He’s better to sleep next to, anyway. But I couldn’t sleep. It wasn’t that his hand was pressed so firmly on mine, as if holding on. It wasn’t that his knee was creating a bruise, although it surely was. It was his breathing. His hair. His nose. His perfect face with its smattering of freckles across his nose. I don’t know if it was a streetlight or moonlight creating a soft glow over him. I couldn’t look away. I couldn’t close my eyes for fear that when I woke up, he would be grown.