It's bittersweet surrender. -- Big Head Todd & The Monsters
Big A turned 6 today. It was a wonderful day that began with his dad's famous oatmeal-chia-flaxseed-coconut oil pancakes ( I only pretend to eat them as to spare my husband's feelings because...gross) but Big A, not knowing any better, thinks they're great. We gave him two small gifts of the Lego and Angry Bird variety and decorated his kitchen chair. He spent the day at the beach with Grandma, his cousins and few other beach club friends, smashing a piñata, swimming in the pool and topping the whole thing off with a Cookie Pus. (If his father was present, it would have been a tower of fruit. As Big A gobbled down Cookie Pus's delicious nose, he MUST have been thinking "Okay now what were those CRAP pancakes my daddy served me this morning?")
So he's home now with a big smile on his face. But for me, it's a little more complicated. I feel sort of like the sister from the movie Poltergeist. After her contribution of giving the finger early on in the film she's pretty much absent the entire movie (and throughout all of the possessed hijinks) only to arrive late in the movie and scream, at the top of her lungs, "WHAT'S HAPPENING????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
What's happening here, Big A? How are you 6? How did this happen? Where did the time go? You were JUST BORN. I remember your 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th birthdays like they just happened yesterday. How did you get to be 6? I'm truly am baffled about how time could zip forward so fast. Didn't you just smash your cake with your fist as everyone cheered? Didn't you dress up like a tiny leprechaun for Halloween with a little green hat? Remember when you couldn't say your "Fs" and you were obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine? Remember the time you fell asleep in your high chair and woke up only to scarf down two bananas? Now you're so analytical, you crack sarcastic jokes, you empathize with others. You hate bananas. And you're just so....tall.
We celebrate birthdays for our children with joy, love and fun. But sometimes I don't want to celebrate another year in the can. It reminds me that with every year that passes I am closer to losing you. Which isn't even fair to say. I'll never lose you. I can't "lose" you anymore than I could lose my own finger prints. You'll always be with me, ingrained on my soul and tucked deep inside of my heart no matter what happens. But your birthday reminds me that you are growing up, (which is sort of the idea here) but it's also a sobering reality check that with each year that passes I will be one year closer to having to let you go. Our time is so precious...what is it they say about parenting small children? The days are long but the years are short? If these 6 years zoomed past like so much rain slipping down a dashboard how fast will the next 6 years fly by? Sigh.
Except for the conception part, nothing about motherhood came easily or naturally to me. Listen Big A, I've finally got the hang of this whole out-of-control madness and it seems you are on this (totally normal) path of growing up...a path that will eventually lead you away from your father and me. Every birthday is a bittersweet reminder that you're another step closer to sleep-away camp, a driver's license, going away to college and then moving out for good.
But let's celebrate! You with your friends, your cake, your presents. Me, trying to figure out a way to be at peace with the passage of time, as all of the mothers before me have done and as all ones who come after me will do. Happy Birthday my dear one, thank you for making me a less selfish, more caring person than I was before you came to me. Thank you for choosing Daddy and I as your parents. Thank you for humbling me by granting me the privilege of experiencing a love that is extraordinary, overpowering and completely unrelenting. I will honor what I have been given by letting you go when the time is right. But not before. Dammit.
So until then, I'll be the one pretending there's something in my eye as your blow out your candles.