Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My Baby Boy

We were getting ready to run errands last week when I realized that the shoe I putting on Benjamin's foot was splitting open at the toe. My first thought was, "What the heck? Stride Rite owes me an explanation, not to mention thirty bucks!" But then I noticed that the little foot I was trying to cram into the shoe wasn't quite so little anymore. In fact, the toe of the shoe had split open because Benjamin's foot was getting too big for it. Ok, this was downright unsettling. There was no way Benjamin could have grown that much while I wasn't looking. Right? Of course not. I put the thought out of my head.

A few days later, my neighbor Julie and I strolled up to the Farmer's Market with our sons in tow. As we ate our rotisserie chicken, we watched the boys playing with each other and laughed when they stopped horsing around long enough to check out an adorable little girl strolling by. Suddenly, I had a flashback to the last time we'd taken this trip:

And there was that unsettling feeling again! What was it? It was a combination of pride mixed with poignance, and it caused my heart to ache.

The next day while we were out on our morning walk, we stopped to play on the concrete stage in the neighborhood park. Usually, Benjamin won't venture more than a few feet away before crawling back to me. This time, however, he climbed the steps off the stage and onto the sidewalk, and then he just kept right on going. That same feeling swept over me again, and this time I realized what it was: my baby was growing up too fast.
I know that one of the rites of passage in motherhood is watching your children grow up and fly the coop. I just wasn't prepared to deal with this heartache before my baby was even a year old. Fine, fine, fine... I realize that I'm being a tad bit melodramatic. It'll be another four years before Benjamin starts kindergarten and at least another fourteen years after that before he gets a girlfriend. But these signs of independence, however thrilling they are to see, make me realize how fleeting his childhood really is.
Benjamin's new favorite thing to do is climb the stairs. In the past, he'd do this with considerable assistance from Mommy and Daddy, but now he likes to go up the entire flight all by himself. He doesn't like for us to hover too closely, but if we linger back too far, he'll stop his climbing to make sure that we're still paying attention.


Seeing him pause in his ascent to look back and make sure I'm still watching makes me realize that I have no reason to be sad. Perhaps knowing that we're always here for him is what gives our baby the confidence to charge ahead and explore his world.

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