When I dropped my 5-year-old off for school this morning, he refused to kiss me. He gave me an, “I’m too cool for that” shrug as my lips landed mid-air and my heart dropped into my stomach. Already? I thought. Already, his look seemed to say.
“I’m not ready for this,” I mumbled as I walked away. I don’t want my kids to grow up. Not yet. I want more time. More time to play and laugh and do it all right.
I jokingly tell my kids to stay little. They laugh and say, “Mommy, we can’t! We’re growing!” I laugh along with them, but inside I’m dying. If only they knew how deeply I wish it could be true. How much I want them to stay little.
I’ll miss so much about these days when they’re gone. I’ll miss the kisses and cuddles. I’ll miss the tiny hands holding onto mine. I’ll miss the little incomprehensible drawings and gifts of rocks and old cans of shaving cream that my son presents with flourish as if he’s offering me a diamond. I’ll miss the laughter. I’ll miss the play. I’ll miss listening to their little voices. Holding them in my arms.
I’ll miss my babies when they’re grown.
Of course there is a lot I won’t miss. I won’t miss the tantrums. Or the whining. Or the bedtime battles. Or the messes. Or the fact that my son insists on destroying EVERY. SINGLE. MEAL. in some evil plot to give me an ulcer.
But all that is a price I’m willing to pay to have my son curl up into my arms and tell me he loves me at the end of the day. To have my daughter smile up at me and tell me she’s happy.
Regardless of what I want or how I feel, time moves on. Children grow up. We grow old. Life passes us by. I can’t make my kids stay little. I can’t slow down time. I can only be there, every day, soaking it all up so that one day, when they’re grown and flown, they’ll live in my heart. Still little.