I never know when it will happen. The moments when Time pushes against me. It happened before I had kids, but Time shoves back harder and faster now that I’m watching you grow.
I expect it when we cross the big milestones: Whenever I pack away one size of clothes to make room for another, Pre-K Graduation, birthday parties with Elmo cupcakes, writing the first day of school on a chalk board for you to hold, grinning wide despite your fear of the unknown.
But it’s the moments I’m not expecting that take my breath away, when Time pushes against me so hard I feel it in my lungs: the first time you read a sentence on your own, the first time you called me “Mom” instead of “Mommy”, the moment I realized all those baby things—chosen with more care and consideration than my first car—no longer serve a purpose.
I can’t remember the last time I used the big stroller, the one that carried you on our first tentative trips into the world. I just used it and rolled it back in the garage. At some point, I must have folded it flat, making more room for your tricycles, scooters, and helmets. Then, much later, I realized I would never need the stroller again.
Piece by piece, your baby things moved in and out of the house. At first I was so overwhelmed with tiny clothes, I was happy to pass them along and make room. But then your infant swing left. Next, your highchair. Finally, your crib.
I started inventing excuses to hold onto things. I decided I may need a booster seat for a niece or nephew. A Pack ‘n Play still clutters my guestroom closet because, who knows, maybe someone will visit and need it (as if parents don’t travel with a Pack ‘n Play of their own).
So much of your young life was spent waiting for the next milestone: When you would finally sleep through the night, when you would tell me what you need, when I could stop buying diapers.
I pushed through your babyhood, and now, you’re asking to go to the Big Kid playground. The toys and game and shows you once loved are “babyish”. You are running away from me at full speed, and I have to let you go.
It started with those first tentative steps, our hands clasped so tight. We were both scared you would fall. I let go first, knowing even if you fell, you had to take that step away from me. And you put one foot in front of the other and moved ahead.
But with each year, those steps became bigger. They rush past until I’m the one reaching out for you. The baby years are gone, yet I still lean over to kiss the top of your head, breathing deep for the smell of the tiny infant who curled against my chest.
I know it is gone, but I still search for it whenever Time pushes back too hard.
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