When my son was just born, I knew he was the last one to complete our family of five, and I tried to freeze every little image, smell, and noise of him in my mind, knowing I would never be in that situation again. I didn’t want to let go and told the nurse to delay checking him over so I could hold him a little longer.
I love his sisters just as much, but there’s something about the baby. I find myself slowing down more and not taking the stages and milestones of toddler-hood for granted, even the challenging ones, such as finally being able to open the pantry door and dumping out all of the cereal.
Right now, at almost three, he’s in a very clingy, “I only want Mom” phase. He doesn’t like me to be out of his sight for very long, including the bathroom when I try to get two minutes of peace in private. His grip is tight on me whenever I try to leave him with a babysitter, the Stay and Play place at the gym, and even his dad right now.
I sometimes find myself venting to my husband and friends about how exhausted I am with him. I tell them, “I love him so much, but I feel so suffocated! I don’t remember his sisters being like this!” Some of my friends try to point out that he’s my only boy and there’s something about that mother son relationship, and to embrace the clinginess because it will end so soon. I know they’re right.
Last night I went through the bedtime routine and after reading an extra book, I cuddled close for goodnight kisses. “Seep wit me, Mama.” He pleaded up to me.
“I’ll lie next to you for a few minutes, but then you need to go to sleep.” I wrapped my arms around him and looked him over in the soft glow of his moon nightlight. Just yesterday he had a rounder face and extremely fine hair that hadn’t felt a pair of scissors yet. He still has a slight baby face, but I can definitely see the features of a bigger kid ready to emerge. I started to get up after his breathing slowed and his eyes fluttered open. He quickly grabbed onto my shirt and whispered, “Mama, no go. I need you.”
I knew I had so many things to do before I went to bed myself; a kitchen to clean, lunches to make, cheesy shows to watch on TV, but how many more nights do I have when my son needs me to feel safe? How many more days do I have when I’m the first one he runs to when he’s hurt, physically and emotionally?
I’m his brave superhero right now but before long he’ll be letting go more and more. I know he’ll always need me in certain ways but obviously not the same as he does now at three.
As my last baby for me to go through all of the firsts with, I’m also holding on tightly before I have to let go of this little boy. Life is so short and our children are only this little in a blink of the eye. While he still needs me this fiercely, I’m not going to get annoyed by it or think of my to-do lists.
“Pease sleep wit me.” He repeated again. “Ok, baby, close your eyes.” I put my arm around him and he grabbed my hand. I ended up letting go first after he was fast asleep, but I know in my heart that it will actually be him, sooner than later, to drop my hand. And when he does, I’ll celebrate it because it means I’m doing my job right, and I’ll step aside, but I’ll never truly let go and will miss these nights when I was held hostage on a twin bed with my son.