The other night after getting the kids to bed, I was sitting at my computer when I heard my 9-year-old son call down to me. “Mom? Will you lay with me?” came a little voice from the top of the stairs.
This is an unusual request. Normally after I finish tucking the girls in and getting them settled, my son is already engrossed in his latest book. I always give him a hug and a kiss and say good-night, but he’s usually anxious to get back to reading so I rarely linger. Besides, after laying down with each of the girls and detangling myself from their tentacles, I’m eager to get back downstairs and have some ME time.
Since it’s rare that my son requests my presence at bedtime anymore, I immediately left what I was doing at the computer and went upstairs. As I lay down beside him on his bed and started stroking his head, I noted the stiffness of little boy hair. It no longer has the silky softness of toddler hair. I closed my eyes and tried as hard as I could to remember the infant that he once was and stroking that downy baby head, but all I could see were the pictures we have displayed around the house. I honestly can’t remember that child.
And because I’m a sap I started to well up. I lay there and held him tight, as if I could stop time and keep him from getting any older if I held on hard enough. Finally I got up and left the room before he could see the tears in my eyes.
I think the hardest part about the kids growing older is that I just cannot remember what they were like in the past. It’s the same with all my kids. I can’t even remember what they were like last year, to say nothing of three, five, or nine years ago.
I look at R, my sturdy 3-year-old, and I adore this little preschooler who tells me she loves me without prompting and finds Goldbug on every page of Richard Scary’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go in record time. I delight in my 6-year-old who wants to carry a purse everywhere and put on makeup just like me. And I cherish my growing boy who shares my sense of humor and can beat me at Othello fair and square. I don’t want to go back and relive the last 9 years. I just wish I could remember them.