*My oldest, Jackson, turns 13 tomorrow. I didn't think I'd have a hard time with it, but it turns out I do.
I’ve been sitting here for hours, holding you in my arms. You sleep. I watch your eyelids float up and down. I watch your sweet, toothless mouth form a smile. I smile back at you. You make me laugh. I breathe in your new baby smell and feel your oh, so soft breath. It’s satin against my face. You remind me of a closed, white rose; smooth and pure and perfect.
Your contented sighs are promises of things I can’t even imagine. Every flicker, every twitch, every wrinkle, every curve, I know. I study you while the world functions without my participation.
My involvement is right here, on this couch where I sit, holding my world. I ignore the phone, the doorbell and the TV sits in silence. I listen carefully for a deep sigh or gurgle or the rare whimper.
This is my new world, the one my mother told me about. My understanding is clear now. Yesterday I saw in the mirror dimly, but now face to face. I’m so filled with richness through this child.
Because of this child I can become a better daughter, a better sister, a better friend.
He is my firstborn, the one who will teach me how to be a mommy.
You walked into the kitchen yesterday. “I’m almost 13. Doesn’t that deserve a great, big party?” You grinned.
Yes, yes it does. Thirteen years? How I’ve squandered those years! Fussing over the dirt you tracked in or the messy bedroom. I only have a few years left with you. I want to pause, to slow life down, to somehow pick and choose which moments I want you to remember about us.
When did you learn to do things without me? You used to need my help to climb stairs or take a bath. Now you talk about soccer and games and girls. And you definitely don’t want my help in the bath.
If only I hadn’t taken those moments for granted. If only I could sit on the couch and hold you and watch you sleep. If only you needed me to hold you.
Yesterday I yelled at you to get your stinky soccer shoes out of the kitchen.
You found a book. Freight Train by Donald Crews. You remember it, you said. You remember me reading it to you. I remember it too.
Tonight you left your stinky soccer shoes in the kitchen again. They’re bigger than my own shoes. I picked them up and carried them to your room.
I watch you sleep. It’s my breath I hear now. I’m panicked. I can’t control this burdensome passage of time. It can’t be 13 years ago that you called me to you with a small cry. I was all you needed.
I watch you sleep. I try not to cry. I don’t want to wake you.