I don’t know why I never thought I’d be writing something like this. It’s not that I’m in denial, or
have my head in the clouds, it’s just that life is funny. You go about business almost as if we are on autopilot. Days turn into weeks, weeks into months and months into years. They pass like wind through the trees, escaping from us like a cruel joke.
This weekend, life reminded me that time was passing. You see, for several weeks my son has been hinting that his tenth birthday is coming up. “That’s double digits,” he will say. “It’s a big one, Mom.” Honestly, I hadn’t given it much thought. Yes, it is a big one, and I am sure we will do something special, but it hadn’t materialized in my mind that he might be changing. I think I get so wrapped up in trying to make it through one day that it didn’t dawn on me that my child might be starting the slow process of becoming a young man.
“He has been acting a little strange, hasn’t he?” I thought to myself. What I mean by strange is that he has been experimenting (consciously or unconsciously, I’m not sure) more and more with pushing boundaries.
What I perceive as “strange”, or not his normal self, is really just my son morphing into the man that he will someday become. He is slowly breaking away from his parents and testing limits that we have become accustom to over the past decade– it’s perfectly normal behavior.
Children are always changing and growing. What did I expect, that he’d stay a child forever? Not really, but the when you live with them day after day, it can sometimes be difficult to see the small advances. The slow, subtle path from child to adult, dependent to independent. It is a gradual, drawn out process.
This weekend we went out for a bike ride and he broke away from us. He peddled as fast as he could, his strong legs taking him farther and farther away, far out of reach. Unable to leave our younger child, he got away from us in an instant.
We frantically looked for him all while trying to care for our younger child. He ended up finding his way home safely. He did the right thing and headed home to the security of our house. When we arrived, my husband and I were angry, and he knew it. We had a talk with him and explained what went wrong and that we never wanted that to happen again. This is just one example, but as I headed out on my walk this morning it occurred to me that my son is indeed beginning the process of breaking away.
The evolution from child to man is a long one, but this process is beginning and it hadn’t dawned on me until this moment.
I see it now, bits and pieces of the child that he once was crumbling off into an empty space. It brings tears to my eyes, not because we once playfully agreed that he would live and snuggle with me forever, but because that small, innocent child will become a distant memory. A “remember when” and a “that time in our lives.” It is such a brief but magical time, one that I probably didn’t appreciate as much as I should have. I may have dwelled too much on the difficulties of parenting and not enough on the moments of pure joy that this child brought to me.
Like the downy feathers of an eaglet, he has begun to slowly shed the fuzz for his adult feathers that will allow him to soar. He is in that stage where he is beginning to feel awkward and gangly, half of his downy feathers still attached to him like a blanket from his youth, or a beloved stuffed pet that he can’t seem to let go of. Caught between the safety of his home and the freedom of the skies. These blankets and toys will dwindle away soon enough. They will fill memory boxes and be taken up to the attic to collect dust– forgotten memories of a time that once was.
It’s painful to think about. It’s a re-birth of sorts, and just like the birthing process… it hurts.
It’s agonizing, but just like birth it is joyous and exciting as well. I can remember dreaming about who my son would be as an adult, and now we are on the edge of this metamorphosis. I wonder who he will be? Will he be strong and kind, will he still move snails from the sidewalk to the bushes, “you know, to give them a lift” will he still come up with clever jokes, and ask a million questions, love a good tree swing, still love chocolate croissants on a Sunday mornings, still want to buy mouse ears at Disneyland, and get excited over Shirley Temples, and will he finally know who Shirley Temple actually is?
I wonder all of these things, but I can’t spend too much time dreaming of tomorrow because if I do, I might miss a year, a month, a week or a day in the life of my gangly eaglet and I could never forgive myself for that. Someday in the future he will leave the nest and soar through the skies, but until then I am hanging onto all of the downy feathers I can grab hold of.
[bctt tweet = “The bittersweet story of a child becoming an adult- Breaking Away #fitfluential #parenting”]
To my son: I hope that you read this and if you ever have a child of your own, come back here when they turn 10 and you will know the bittersweet sadness and joy that I was feeling on this day. I am always with you. I will always love you.