My son’s grandfather recently passed away, so I was looking for some old videos to give to his dad. This lead me down the rabbit hole of watching clip after clip of my perfect, chunky, babbling baby. OMG THE PRECIOUSNESS. He was SO CUTE! And ADORABLE! And PERFECT in every way.
Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE the young man Jayden is growing to be. He is almost 14 now, stands at 5’4 and a half, has a hint of a mustache and the witty humor of a hilarious smart teenager-man-child. He is amazing, and I burst with pride that I get to be his mother.
BUT, I am also sad that my needy, dependent, “my mom is everything” child is gone. I didn’t really know how to put the feelings into words, until I came across this article:
It perfectly describes how I feel! And I am quite sure if you are a parent of a child in the process of growing up, you will relate in every way.
When I look back at those videos and pictures of Jayden as a baby, I feel almost robbed of time. Even though I was insanely lucky enough to spend most of his first year at home, enjoying all of his firsts. Even though he is still growing, living at home, happy and healthy. I still feel like it wasn’t enough time.
When Jayden was 4 years old, his anxiety began to really show. He had severe separation anxiety, and daycare drop offs were the absolute worst. When I showed up every day to pick him up, it was like nothing else in the entire world mattered. Jayden thought I was his hero, there to save him (from a wonderful, loving daycare), and I couldn’t believe how much he loved me.
Then, I blinked, and Jayden is in 7th grade. But wait! What happened to his elementary school years? They happened, and I was there every step of the way, present and enjoying every moment. But dangit, they are gone now! I need to go back and hug that needy little boy one more time. I need to hear that sweet little voice as he runs into the living room, “Mom! Ok, I just needed to see you were still here.” I long to see him stumbling out of his room, asking to sleep in my bed “just this one time.”
I think kids change so little during the kindergarten to fifth grade years. I mean, obviously they grow and learn new things and meet new people. But they are still very dependent on their parents. We have to guide them, keep them on a routine, dictate every step of their lives. It is easy to be very present in these years, but still have them zip past you in a moment. You are moving through life, growing and guiding these little humans into good, decent beings. You focus on the good, amazing things that they are doing, and don’t realize that the child you know is about to leave. I didn’t get to say goodbye to that roly poly baby who smiled every time I walked in the room, or to the chunky toddler who loved to sing and dance and cuddle. I didn’t get to say goodbye to the quirky, awkward tween that he was, navigating life as he transitioned between child to teenager.
“You never get to properly say goodbye to all the little people who grow up because you don’t notice the growing, the changing. Except when Facebook sends you those bloody memory reminders that invariably make me cry because it’s like showing me the face of someone I can never see again. Not in that way. Not at that age.”
Take high school reunions. They are fun because while sure everyone has changed a bit, they are pretty much still the same adults that they were when you graduated. They laugh the same, their voices are the same, the faces are the same. But a child growing up moves through phases that you will never see again in that tiny human. I will never again get to hold baby Jayden, babbling a bunch of nonsense and expecting me to figure out his every need. I didn’t get to say goodbye to Kindergarten Jayden, as he successfully made it through his first year of school. I missed telling Tween Jayden that I was going to miss this weird phase of his life and that I wished I could freeze him for just a little bit more time.
As friends and family see Jayden when it’s been awhile, they all gasp, “Wow, he’s gotten so tall!” or “He looks like such a teenager now!”. And I smile, beeming with happiness and pride, but also…my soul cries a little. I am extremely proud of the young adult he is becoming. He is smart, manages his anxiety so well, he’s funny, has life goals. He happily talks about his future, and mostly prefers to be independent. There are things he can do now that I thought would never happen because the severity of his anxiety disorder. There is literally nothing else I could ask of the person he is right now. Except, to go back in time so I can get a few more baby cuddles in. Pipe dream, I know.