What we really mean when we say "They grow up so fast!"
My babies…have just turned 13 and 16.
My older son, 16, wanted a 4th trimester when he was born. He slept in 45 minute intervals all day and night, and felt everything, light, sound, whispers, lawnmowers, doorbells, carseats, strollers, as an assault to his senses. I held him through the storms and discomforts, walking, rocking, singing, silently, constantly, tearfully, lovingly, curiously, devotedly, nursing him when he searched, holding him when he arched, cradling him when he dozed off. And I worried that he didn’t like me, that I wasn’t able to understand his call sometimes, that all my choices would backfire down the road…all the voices clanging and cautioning me to put him down or I’d spoil him.
I didn’t listen to them. My baby wasn’t a “fussy” baby but a magnificent human being, my precious baby who was communicating something to me about who he was and what he needed. I had to trust him. That’s how I found my own intuition. By following his.
From the time we are new parents, there’s so many voices, so much, so many tips and lists and strategies from a culture of over-advice that hijacks our intuition.
It’s been an incredible, exquisite, painful, profound, bewildering, mesmerizing, maddening, magical, heart-filling and breaking, challenging, empowering, inspiring, creative journey that keeps unfolding in chapters and stories that I have learned to see as deeply humbling. It’s humbling to know that you don’t know the answers only questions. It’s humbling to be fully present. It’s humbling to surrender to the moment. it’s humbling to wrestle with and let go of expectation. It’s humbling to fess up when you mess up. It’s humbling to experience the power of repair with people you love most on earth. It’s humbling to realize we are being raised by our babies and children, unknown to them, through our struggles and conflicts and resolutions. It’s humbling to see our children suffer or struggle and understand that our close, loving support of them as they pull through is a necessary rite of passage for both of us. It’s humbling that we can’t kiss all the boo boos. It’s humbling that loss is inevitable part of life.
People say, “They grow up so fast.” I don’t think it goes so fast.
The last 16 years don’t feel fast….they feel like decades and lifetimes of time-traveling for me, a surreal movie in my mind of all the beautiful and heart-wrenching moments when I thought things were so hard and yet I–we–made it through and I play the movies of me younger and caught in the storms of worry and exhaustion. And here we are…my older son college bound in just 2 years.
It’s humbling to be the grateful recipient of his big bear hugs first thing in the morning, after school and in the evening.
He doesn’t go to bed without hugging me, leaning his head on my shoulder, still, while I rub his back, still. Both my boys so loving and loved. Best friends.
It’s humbling to see my role shifting over the years, metamorphosing through so many roles as they grow and we recalibrate the spaces between us… the way love wants a little more distance at the same time as it needs more intimacy, more affection but more independence, more assurances and less explanations, more attention and less scrutiny, more connection and less distraction more subtle confident knowing and…less anxiety, doubt and stress.
It’s a long road this love journey. It doesn’t go fast when we are really in it, eyes and ears and heart open. It’s only in retrospect that it flies by, I think. We must only look over our shoulders in awe. Not just in “awwww..” Happy birthday to all of us. Every day is a day of re-birth for each of us.