And now I love it even more, because my baby boy is 7.
In my 7 years as a mother, I have noticed that certain birthdays entail subtle changes, while others feel like huge leaps. Obviously tons of changes happen between 0 and 1, but I've always felt like going from 3 to 4 is a huge step up, from toddler to little boy. And now, I'm realizing that 6 to 7 is a huge step too. From little boy to kid, perhaps? I suppose the semantics don't matter. Braden just feels so grown up to me this year.
He's now embarrassed when I sing. He is learning that it's not "cool" to play with dolls. He is learning to ride a bike and use public bathrooms by himself and order his own food at restaurants. He has lost four teeth and can easily catch a frisbee and write me a note. When we were in Bethany Beach, we let him take the elevator by himself and he did it over and over again, so pleased with his independence. He wants to do things on his own.
Yet, he still has glimpses of being a little boy. At times he still cries when he doesn't get his way, and he throws the occasional tantrum (to which I usually say something like, You're too old for this!). He still sleeps with his Pluto and climbs into our bed in the mornings. He still lets me put him to bed, and cuddles with me after I read him a book. I still nuzzle his neck like I did when he was a baby.
Each night, around 10pm, my husband or I wake Braden to take him to the bathroom. He is usually very groggy, and occasionally, I will actually carry him there. A mirror faces us as I enter the bathroom, and last week I was struck by Braden's sheer size. I can still hold him, but his feet dangle past my knees and his arms hang past my elbows. This boy - my baby - is so big.
There's that saying - one day you'll pick them up and it will be the last time. I've been a bit haunted by that saying ever since I heard it the first time, and yet, the last time I pick Braden up may well be very near. There's the physical aspect obviously - soon he will be too big for me to lift. But perhaps sooner than that will come the time where it's not something he wants.
On the evening of Braden's birthday, I told him that for a treat, I would sleep with him in his bed. I would get in bed with him at his bedtime (at 8pm) and stay with him the whole night. He was so excited all day, and we stayed up past 8:30 chatting about school and soccer and vacations and birthday parties. At one point I started to get sappy and tell him that seven years prior I had done this very thing - slept with him next to me all night long, but he interrupted me to ask about the playground at his school.
Once he fell asleep I stared at his little boy face for a while, thinking about what I'd said aloud to him just minutes earlier. Seven years ago I had slept with him by my side, all night long, marveling at his very existence. Here I was, seven years later, doing the same thing. And how lucky that I could do that, because how many more years will he let me?
Braden is 7, and he's a little boy turning into a kid. And while he is in the process, I want to soak up every moment of his little boy-ness that I can.
Happy 7th birthday to my baby, Braden. I couldn't love you more.
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