He walks with a heavy step now. Feet clad in thick boots.
He hurries in from work,
He was riding the motorcycle or driving the giant truck.
He has been out… late.
With “the” girl.
He is a man now.
I look at him, his deep voice telling me stories of people I have never met: his friends, coworkers. His excitement as he talks about plans for his future job, wife, family.
And sometimes I think. Who are you?
I am living with a strange man whom I hardly know.
Where is my little boy?
Where is my baby boy?
The first time I heard “it’s a boy” was just a few minutes ago wasn’t it? The sweet tiny creature who looked at me for the first time like he was looking into my soul; like we had known each other for forever. We cuddled together like sleeping puppies. Inseparable. I knew every breath, every sound. In a crowded room his eyes looked for mine every time. I got the slippery bath time hugs. I shared each new taste each new touch with him.
And it was my hand he let go of when he walked away from me with those first few steps.
I held his dimpled fingers across the street, his first lost tooth, his gum in church, his dripping swim trunks. I oooh’ed and ah’ed over his castles and diving board jumps. I held on when he tried to ride on two wobbly wheels and he never knew when I let go and watched him coast away.
He built Legos, car tracks, rubber bugs, tents, and clubhouses. He made volcanoes and alien masks. He laughed until I thought the walls would burst with the joy of being a boy. Brothers were sent down stairs in laundry baskets and shot at with bb’s, spit wads, Nerf darts, and dirty socks. I insisted, “If you get scared or need anything call me I will come” as he drove away for his first night away from home.
If I could, I would like one thing:
I want one day back.
I want the last day he was still my little boy.
The last time he came to me with tears and a skinned knee. The last day that I tucked him in at night and listened to him pray. The last time I held his sleepy head on my shoulder and rubbed his little back. The last time he cuddled on my lap for one more story. The last time he tore down the hall to open Christmas gifts.
Oh I want that day back.
Because I would treasure every minute. I would hold him a little longer. I would read another story or two. I would give him an extra cookie and a glass of chocolate milk. I would think about how swiftly the days pass and I would linger at the edge of sunset watching him reach higher and higher as he jumps and plays; knowing this tender sweet, immeasurable gift of a little boy is only mine for a short while.
And I would treasure it all the more.