Last week, needing to run into somewhere for something, I returned to the car to see my phone being tossed back in my purse. He chuckled, said something about selfies, and we continued on.
My photostream now holds these, and I'm struck by how much this child is no longer really a child. Sure, he still asks me to wash his hair when dreadlocks are forming and sleeps next to me when he can't sleep or wants company while he reads, but this year, much like every year, I find myself in awe, really, of this first kid. In awe of how much he has come into himself, is finding independence, knows what he loves.
And of course I feel this with his sister too, but the first child . . . there is something so raw about my experience with this first child. With the first, no matter their age, it's just like that first year- the not really knowing how to parent or how your parenting will take your journey together. We can read the books, but nothing in What to Expect or the countless others, in other people's stories, prepares us.
We, together with the first child, begin to lay the foundation for the family and any siblings who follow.
A young family is moving in next door. About our ages when we moved to this neighborhood, they also have a one year old son. I can't help but mist up a little when I see them carrying him around, showing him his new home and the backyard woods, where my now ten year old son hangs out with his friends.
Once, this same boy was scared of those woods. Once he, his dad, and I made paths, walked back to see what treasures we could find, held his hand and answered all the "What's that, Mama!!" to every rustle, while chubby fingers squeezed tighter.
Last night another little guy in our neighborhood pushed his bubble lawnmower past our house. I stopped and did the ole cliche, I remember those days . . . and the parents beamed at him and at my two, riding bikes without push bars, and maybe, like I did when mine were little, they tried to imagine what their guy will be like years from now.
I've realized I've stopped trying to imagine. It's too fuzzy of a picture, and after ten years of mothering, I know, you just don't know what parenting an infant, toddler, child, tween, teen, adult- another person will be like until you are there with them. It's not like imagining your perfect house or dream career, which makes it all the more exciting and terrifying, this parenting journey.
This is the first year this first child of ours, when he talks about the future, doesn't say he'll live with us forever. Now he has plans for culinary school or wilderness education, or maybe just wandering, building shelters out in the woods and finding home there.
His sister still has big plans to live with me forever, but I know the shift will happen for her as well, probably earlier than it did for him, as it seems to with the second.
Of course we know this happens, this inevitable growing up, and of course I don't wish my children live with me forever, no matter how much I do wish they would. Really, what it is, these little reminders- silly selfies, laughter from the woods, toddlers wobbling by, watching my kid zoom off on his bike or lie next to me book in hand, the stopping to smell the roses moments, they're my joys.
And the not knowing what each year brings...actually there is something I can count on, this parenting gig will crack me open again and again, and those joys, they'll be there too.