My “baby” boy is five years old.
If I dare refer to him as my baby, I receive a quick rebuff. He is a BIG boy—a Jedi fighter, a wizard, a super hero.
I stand constantly corrected, promising to remember how tough he is—how grown up he is becoming.
(But I do retain my right to smother him in kisses at any given moment, regardless of his age).
I’ve said before that I am through having babies, and I firmly stand by that decision. We’re blessed with two wonderful children, and I want to devote my time to delighting in all the exciting (and challenging) changes that come with each of their birthdays.
However, it appears I am having a tough time letting go.
At 15 months, Eli’s doctor gave me a stern talking to about his drinking from a bottle. It wasn’t as though I made the decision consciously; it was simply easier to give in to his requests rather than force the issue.
Eli was still sleeping in a crib well past his third birthday. When a child can climb in and out at will, it’s time for a toddler bed, but for whatever reason, I dragged my feet on taking down the crib.
And even I admit, it’s pretty bad when your five-year-old’s room is still decorated as a nursery. Sure, Eli has plenty of cars and trains and Big Boy toys scattered about. But his walls? They’re yellow. And there’s a wallpaper border featuring baby bunnies and teddy bears. Not exactly the room of a ninja warrior.
I told myself I would redecorate the room when I got the chance. I looked at paint samples and shopped for new bedding. I knew it was something that needed to be done, that should be done, but I couldn’t get motivated.
And then, a couple of weeks ago, it finally dawned on me what was happening.
We were getting ready for church and I realized that Eli, my 5-year-old son, couldn’t dress himself. My husband or I always picked out his clothes and got him dressed, usually because we were in a hurry to get out the door. When I asked him to put his clothes on, he was easily frustrated—not because he’s incapable, but because he’d never had to do it on his own.
Clearly, I am holding on to my “baby."
For all my tough talk about being done with diapers and blurp cloths, I’m finding it difficult to let go, to encourage growth and discovery. That’s the cruel thing about parenthood—from the moment they are born, we are supposed to start preparing them to eventually leave us, to go out on their own, to leave the nest. If we’ve done our jobs well, our kids will not need us anymore. It’s a heartbreaking thought.
I’ve bought the new bedspread and I’m in the process of taking down the baby border. Soon, I’ll coat the walls with Eli’s favorite hue of blue, saying goodbye to the sunny yellow room that housed both of my babies. The nursery will finally be gone, and I’m glad it will make my Big Boy happy, even if his mom is melancholy.
But the threat of kisses at any given moment? Sorry, son—that’s never going away.
Jennifer is a mom of two and WRAL-TV assignment editor in Fayetteville. Her food obsession memoir, “Designated Fat Girl,” came out in September. Read more about Jennifer and her book on her website. Find her here on Go Ask Mom on Tuesdays.