Have you ever had those moments with your kids where you look at them and suddenly, they've grown up just a little bit more and you feel as if you've lost the child they once were without even realizing they were leaving? And they didn't even ask permission!!! Hahahaha! I am not sure if this is making any sense or not, but I had two moments like that in the past few days where I looked at both Kenny and Matthew and realized the child they once were...the one I thought I was parenting...had disappeared and a new one had moved in and taken his place.
Kenny had vaccinations again this week, his second round of them. If you recall from a previous post the first time was very traumatic for him, an episode filled with tears and trepidation from the moment we told him he was getting them until after it was all over with. Not wanting to be dishonest with him, I told him the day before about what was coming and was surprised to see him take it in stride saying merely "Ok Mom" and then continue on playing. The next morning I took Matthew to school and then Kenny and I went to get his vaccinations. Other than acknowledging that yes, we were indeed getting his shots, not much else was sad about it. We get to the office and I realize I have been cringing a bit, just waiting for the fear to errupt from him and yet nothing happened. He happily skipped up the sidewalk and in we went. We sat down, and still, nothing. I am thinking to myself "Does he even remember what this is?" but he seemed to be quite clear. Then the real test comes, we are called into the office where the shots are given and asked to sit down. He wants to sit in my lap, but that is the only sign that he knows what's coming next. He talks about the vaccine being in the fridge and watches as she prepares the needles, and even the nurse who was the one who gave the injections last time is surprised and whispering to me quietly "This sure is a change from last time1". Kenny has to have 3 shots with one of them being a little painful (tetanus), and so there he sits, rolling up his sleeves and she gives the first one. He screws up his face and gives an "owie owie" and I know he wants to cry, but he doesn't. Number two comes quickly and the same reaction, with us saying over and over how brave he is...and he even gives a little giggle when it is over. The third one he is VERY close to tears but never gives in to it and he is quite relieved when it is over, but no outburst, no heavy sobs, just quiet, calm courage. Wow, it was so amazing to me that he had been able to overcome that fear. It sure helped to make me feel better and not like I was some evil creature who was out to harm him! I also looked into his eyes as we still sat there in the office and saw that a little of the younger Kenny had just slipped away.
Then there was Matthew. You go along, merrily living your life, hustling your kids here and there, laughing and joking, playing and learning, all the while knowing they are growing up but not always seeing it in your day to day life. The other day we were out on the soccer field watching him play a late afternoon game. First he was goalie wearing an oversized shirt and looking very swallowed up in it, knees not even showing and grinning from ear to ear as he tracks the ball. Later, he is out on the field sans goalie shirt and I was sitting on the grass, camera in hand as usual. The late afternoon sun was casting a beautiful golden glow and I love shooting the kids in that light. I am readying myself for the next shot and there, through the viewfinder, it happened. Matthew is standing there looking so much older, so mature, so...dare I say it...beautiful. H definitely didn't look to my Mommy-Eye like my 8 year old son that cuddles in my lap. My breath caught for just a moment as I snapped the pictures one after the other, realizing my son is well on his way to becoming a man, in a little boy sort of way. I could almost see the teenager he will be in a mere few years, handsome and strong.
Perhaps because Dominick and I didn't create him ourselves I can stand outside of myself and see him in a little different light, with no sense of trying to see myself in him or looking for a biological connection to other relations. Or maybe it is impossible and matters not a whit whether we made him or not, a mommy still thinks her kids are gorgeous no matter if their ears stick out funny or they have buck teeth! Regardless, I just sat there for a moment and admired this child, the one that someone else gave birth to yet I have the pleasure of raising. I thought to myself, the little boy is gone now and he has been replaced by this sturdier version working his way into manhood.
My baby's are almost all gone, and there are those moments where there are pangs in my heart as they move further and further out into the world, just as they are supposed to do. Aren't we all incredibly blessed to have children in our lives and have the chance to marvel at how this all works?