A child’s growth can be compared to a flower blooming. Starting off closed and opening day by day. But sometimes that growth feels like one of those clown flowers, where when you try and get a whiff of something beautiful you get water squirted up your nose.
I say this because I’m not quite sure how to feel lately where my son is concerned. He is growing at warp speed. This is a child that slept in my bed until he was almost three.
Then he moved to a fire truck toddler-bed that was located right beside my bed. If I needed to go pee in the night I had to scoot down to the end of my bed to get out. After that he moved into a twin bed on the other side of my room – he was five.
He will be six in November. On Labor Day I was folding clothes (trying to catch up on “the mountain”), and he came in the room and said, “Why is my dresser not in my room?”
I replied, “Because your room is my room and there isn’t enough room for the dresser in there.”
He said, “I think I want to move my room in here where my dresser is. I want to move to this room today.”
My pulse quickened, my heart leapt for joy. As fast as lightening I stripped the pretty comforter off the bed and threw it in the closet. I undressed the pillow shams and chunked those too. I grabbed the nearest stack of clean sheets for this bed and threw them on. Next I sprinted to his room and got his Spiderman blanket to make the bed manly. Five minutes is all it took and he was in a new bed.
Next we stripped the walls of the Mickey Mouse wall decals I had given him when he was three as a way to try and lure him into this room.
This was the day I had been waiting for – the day Hubby and I got our bedroom back. (Isn’t there a country song out there about this? If not, I think there should be.)
Just to insure his decision, we moved his bed into his sister’s room and replaced the Spiderman sheets with Tinkerbell. There was no going back now – he would never sleep in that bed after it had Tinkerbell in it.
So that was it, right? He’s in his own room now. Oh, happy day!
As cheerful as I had started out and as much as I had wished for this, that night when I went to bed I felt a little empty inside. I looked over at where his bed had been just a couple of hours before we moved it to my daughter’s room and felt like crying. He was gone to his own room. My baby. Suddenly I thought about how we threw those Mickey Mouse stickers away earlier and I wished I would have savored the moment more.
Those stickers were his babyhood gone – in the trash, to a field I would never get to visit again. I relived the moment he and I worked together to decorate the walls of that room with his then favorite character, Mickey Mouse. He even put the decal of Mickey turning off the light switch beside the switch on the wall. I remember feeling like he was a smart boy for thinking of that.
His decision to move to his room had me taking a walk down memory lane, through his childhood that seems to be going so fast these days.
To make matters even more disconcerting, my baby-bestie, Suzanne, called on Saturday and asked if Nathan could have a sleep-over with her son. I said, “Sure, if Nathan will do it.” I never in a million years thought he would really do it.
But guess what? He did it. He went over there and slept at their house and I didn’t go get him until 10:30 the next morning. At least he admitted he slept kind of bad and he was a little afraid. But still, he faced his fear and he did it.
He spent the night away from me. I wasn’t in his bed while he fell asleep. I wasn’t even in his room or in the same house. This was a first – he has never even stayed at any grandparents’ houses without me.
Where did all this independence suddenly come from? It started with doing car pool at school for the first time, to moving into a room of his own, and now a sleep over – all in less than a month. What’s next? He won’t want me to lie in his bed until he goes to sleep at night?
I’m finding motherhood to be a big bag of feelings that are hard to get a handle on. One minute I want my freedom, but I feel something akin to loneliness once I get it. I want him to grow up then I wonder what happened to my baby.
My consolation? I have two. My daughter still cried like crazy for me when I left her at school this morning. I felt bad about her being so sad, but somewhere deep inside I felt like I still have one baby left – until I start to see that even with my baby girl, I am one minute smelling roses and the next minute it’s a big laugh, a squirt in the nose, at how I want my precious, dependent babies back.
I guess kids’ growth is a lesson in the process of life. How nothing ever stays the same, everything changes. I have told this lesson to my children many times, like when a block tower falls, I say, “It’s OK. Nothing is permanent. Things always change.”
I never thought about it pertaining to my children growing and maturing though. And in my new-motherhood mind I thought I would be so happy to have more freedom. And I am. But I didn’t think of the duality of those feelings. How I could be happy for the growth and sad at the same time.
I guess this is what grandkids are for, right? We’ll see…