We had our typical New Year’s Eve meal of “little smokies”, veggies with dip, chips and queso, and Quiche tarts with our children to welcome in the New Year. We talked about what our favorite parts of 2013 were, and what we were looking forward to in 2014. The kids stayed up a little later than usual, but were still in bed by 9:00 pm.
As I was getting my 7-year-old son ready for bed, he said, “Now, I’m ready for my big boy stuff!” By big boy stuff, he was referring to the mouthwash we bought him to assist with his dental care now that he has adult teeth.
As he turned around to show me how he could swish the mouthwash in his mouth, I noticed how small he still looks in his pajamas. He said the words “big boy”, but in my mind and heart, he is still my little boy.
When he turned around to face the sink, I started to tear up just a bit. Odd, I know. Normally the vision of my children brushing their teeth does not cause me to cry, but this time, I took one look at him, and realized that another year has passed in raising this wonderful little boy.
The thought of releasing him to the world one of these days terrifies me. Truly, the thought of releasing any of my children to the world is frightening. Yet, I know that I am experiencing the same feelings my parents, my parents’ parents, and my parents’ grandparents must have felt. With each passing of a New Year, I am brought a little closer to my children growing up, a little closer to the day when they will be out of the house, and a little closer to the day when they too will be navigating the journey of raising children.
I’m asking, on behalf of all mothers and fathers out there, for us to all stop and take a look around at the world we are leaving for our babies. Those of us around my age and older remember a world free from technology, digital anything, texting, and searing statistics of broken families. I wish I could bring my babes back to the world I grew up in – back to a world that seemed a little more kid friendly, or maybe even, safer.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I know we live in a remarkable time. Just the fact that I’m sitting here from my laptop in Southwest Missouri and sharing my thoughts that will reach other countries, is astonishing. I know this. As a mom though, I wonder where all of this is going. Are we continuing down a path of technology marvel while pulling away from actual relationships?
My “big boy” in his slightly too-big Lego’s pajamas is not ready for the world. I’m not ready to let him go. I’m not ready for the times he comes home heart-broken over being picked on, turned down, or disappointed. I fear the day he walks through the doors, nearly grown, and announces that he’s ready to move out.
Sometimes, I just want to roll back time, and hold him a little closer. This part…this part of watching children grow up and become less dependent…is both wonderful and heart-breaking at the same time. And yet, my children are still so young. I suspect I will feel these emotions with each passing of the New Year.
As the mother of a little boy who thinks he is big (and of a little girl, and infant boy), I have a few words of advice that I would like to share with all of the Big Boys out there:
- We were not made to be the same. The beauty of you, and your friends, is that each of you are uniquely created with talents, ambitions, and inclinations. My son has quirks, talents, and struggles that make him who he is. You will never see or even like my son the way that I do, but please, let him be who he is, and I’m pretty sure he will let you be who you are.
- Don’t do anything stupid. Your mother loves you, and worries about you – even though you are bigger. No matter your age, she will never stop. Try to go easy on her.
- Your role as a man, brother, boyfriend, husband, uncle, father, or grandfather, is vital. YOU are vital. Your God-given role is equally important in the lives of children. I have worked with many children who grieved for a relationship with a father. Please don’t under-estimate how valuable you are in the lives of little big boys (and little big girls) in the world.
- Please know that little big boys look up to you. They watch all that you do, and say, and they are impressed by it. Try to make positive, life-affirming impressions on all of the little boys you come in contact with.
- Remember, you were once a little big boy. Think about that.
I know I still have many more years to raise, train, discipline, and enjoy my children. I also know that parenting is a life-long venture. As time passes, I see that moments of parenting go by quickly. I will wake up one of these days to an empty home that is not filled with the busyness of children. There will no longer be lunches to pack, school work to help with, middle of the night wake-up calls, or early morning bed jumpers. There will just be me, my husband, and the memories of raising our children.
For now, though, I am going to sneak off and give my little big boy a kiss while he sleeps….