I’m exhausted. My hands are raw from washing bottles. I can think of a lengthy list of things I would rather do than change dirty diapers. But in the last four weeks (wow, has it been four weeks already?) I realized something: I’m no longer preoccupied with goals I never reached. I’m no longer researching masters programs online with a heavy heart because I know I can’t afford it yet. I’m no longer obsessed with sitting on my computer, typing up elaborate lesson plans for my students. Instead, my life is wrapped up in the needs of one little boy.
I look at him and how small and fragile–yet strong–he is. I listen to his little noises and take in his every movement. Because I know that tomorrow, he’ll be grown. He’ll be an adult.
I can look back on the last ten years of my life and see how quickly they flew past me. The first day of high school, prom, high school graduation, college graduation, wedding day, three years of teaching experience… Where did the time go? So right now, while I can, I want to take in every bit of this little child I am somehow able to call my own. I never, ever thought I would feel this way. But I do.
When I was younger–and I have to admit, even during my pregnancy–I could not understand what would possess my mother to give up her career, her independence, her salary, her seniority, to stay at home with two children. Now I understand. I don’t think I’ll be a stay-at-home mom. But I get why she wanted to be there. Why she wanted to see, hear, do all the things she saw, heard and did. Why would I want to be teaching other people’s children when I could be teaching mine? What could be more important than hearing my child’s first words? Playing on the floor with him? Coloring Easter eggs, picking out Halloween costumes and trick-or-treating… I realize, as my mother did, you can work a job anytime anywhere. But once those moments with my little boy are gone, they’re gone.
William Thomas, tomorrow you will be a man. Hopefully, prayerfully, a good man. But when I look at you, I will always see the newborn sucking his fingers on my chest in the hospital room. I will always see the infant asleep in a bassinet with his long arms stretched above his head. I will see my dad’s cheekbones, my husband’s long fingers, my Bop’s wrinkled forehead. I will see that tiny sideways smile that shows up when you’re dreaming. And I’ll smile, remembering the days when you were my baby, and knowing that whether you like it or not, you always will be.
“Grown don’t mean nothing to a mother. A child is a child. They get bigger, older, but grown? What’s that supposed to mean? In my heart it don’t mean a thing.” -Toni Morrison, Beloved