With my sons getting older, the nights of scared little boys crawling into bed during a storm are few and far between. Granted, I was never exactly Julie Andrews dancing around the room with curtains singing of crisp apple strudel. I would curse whenever sharp elbows met my forehead or boney knees dug into my back at 2 a.m. More often than not, I would nudge my husband and have him return the invader back to his bed of origin.
But knowing these visits are drawing to an end, I have come to cherish waking up nose-to-nose with my snoring 6-year-old. Joey is the most restless sleeper of them all, but I somehow don’t mind nearly as much. I find his chronic thrashing, talking, and kicking almost endearing.
He is my baby, and I am clinging to these days with both hands.
When I awoke to find Joey sitting up in our bed the other night, it was a welcome surprise. In my foggy state of semi-consciousness, I leaned in to kiss him on the head and heard him mumble:
“I don’t wanna grow up.”
My heart ached with that exact sentiment.
A large part of me wants to keep him and his gummy, missing front teeth grin forever this age. There is nobody he loves more in the entire world than his mommy and a simple kind word or hug lights him up like a Christmas tree. When he is afraid, he need only climb into our bed and the world is no longer a scary or threatening place.
Soon, it will become harder to meet his complex needs. The map has been drawn. There will be heartache, disappointment, and frustration. My magical powers will cease. And like Joey, I am not ready for that reality, either.
Or so I thought.
As I pulled the blanket over my last son, I realized my fatal mistake.
I had misheard him.
He had not spoken the words, “I don’t wanna grow up,” but had actually uttered:
I’M GONNA THROW UP.
And there it was in all its 2 a.m. time-to-start-a-load-of-laundry glory.
No, they are not my babies any more. Each passing day brings exciting acts of independence and maturity. Each day, I look in the mirror and notice a couple more gray hairs and smile lines in the reflection. Each day brings us all further away from the baby years and closer to the next great adventure.
An adventure that should probably include a hearing check.
And possibly a new comforter.