There are a lot of things that five years old brings to a parent’s life. And before I even had a child, I had heard about the magic of age 5. I even remember chatting with my aunt while I was pregnant with my first child. I chatted about how I might wait until my children were five before I would consider working. I was very set on the idea that I would be home from 0-5 years old because those were the most important years for the brain developing. I was sure that my presence at home would be paramount during this time. I would spend endless days singing, laughing, hugging and chatting with my child peacefully and hopefully. And despite all the craziness added in—that I hadn’t truly intended or imagined in my wildest dreams… I did do all those things I wanted to do too. Only I’m much wiser now. I realize that my little fantasy was partly true and thinly wrapped in a little fantasy… like a ribbon around the neck, you know, cutting off air supply to the brain. I know that all those things I knew to be so true ar
e probably true to some extent. And I also know that there’s a bunch of other crap that I had no idea was true too. I didn’t speak in whispers all the time, but I was there like I wanted to be. And the beauty of it is, in my older age, I realize that most reality is simply what we believe. The truth is that I made it the most important time of their lives.
And then at 5, I stand on the precipice… not another child in line to be developmentally swooned into little boy or girlhood. Instead, I stand here watching my littlest wonder, wondering how I’ll ever live without that little boy so little. I stared at him all day today and wondered if one day I would remember how vividly he giggled right next to me. Would I still cringe at the 457 boogers I watched him eat today, while I yelped at him to stop? I wondered how I would go the next how many years of my life without that little face or my first child’s telling me how beautiful I am or how much they love me in that little boy voice. Who is going to cuddle with me cheek to cheek when they fall and get hurt? And seriously, how helpless will I feel when he finds a woman who will love him the rest of his life. That’s MY job. Someday he’ll be huge and stinky and probably pick me up and throw me around. And I want him to remember how much I loved him, love him, will always love him. I can’t believe how much I love him, how much I loved raising him through all those years of singing, laughing, classical music, boogers, talking about poop, cleaning the peed on bed, picking up the 30 little stuffed animals on the floor. I wonder if he sees the sadness in my eyes as I watch my littlest wonder turn into a little boy.
And he’s a wonderful boy, full of vim and vigor, ready to laugh and wrestle and yell “poop” at any moment! He dances and fights all with the same fervor! And I know the next 20 years will be just as crazy as the last five—only I won’t be holding him all the time. I won’t be yelling at him to potty in the toilet. I’ll be telling him to shower and stay away from that girl who always has her bra hanging out. I’ll be waiting for him to walk in after curfew, hiding on the stairs. I’ll be telling him not to drink or do drugs. I’ll be telling how to tame pimples and—well, I’m probably ahead of myself. But today was a profound day for me. I’m no longer the mother of babies and toddlers. I’m the mother of boys, marching towards manhood. And I’m wiser for the past and naïve to the future. I’m probably just like them. We’re all marching together, me with a few more wrinkles, them with broader shoulders. Life’s funny, isn’t it? To all my mommy friends who are saying good-bye to the babies. Here’s to the tears, the laughter, the good-byes and a bright tomorrow.