I kissed my baby boy good it tonight for the last time as a 3-year old. My eyes pricked as my hand hovered over the light switch in his room, and I found myself hesitating--reluctant to flip the switch and end the nightly ritual.
I felt as if I were closing the door to his baby-hood, as silly as that seems. Other kids his age have seemed so OLD to me, for so long now. Maybe it was the lingering speech delay, the frustrated play skills, the periodic struggles that would rear their ugly heads that kept him a baby for me. Whatever it was, it was SHOCKING to see my little boy settling cheerfully into bed tonight. He was excited about his birthday dawning, and was eager for sleep.
EXCITED. My baby boy was EXCITED for his birthday--a future event, one that he has grasped fully for the first time, only this year. For the first time, he has dictated how HE wants his day to go, from the blue Thomas the Train cake with his name on it, to the presents he wants--and, thanks to parents and grandparents still desperately grateful for speech, will certainly receive. As I made his cake tonight, he even licked the spoon and reminded his brother that HE got to lick the spoon because it was HIS birthday.
Smugness is new, and (apparently) fun.
I feel as if I am constantly staring at this kid, stunned that he is so quickly evolving into a tiny, complete HUMAN BEING--becoming so much more complex and independent, moment by moment. Gone are the days of me dictating every moment of his day, first because he was too young to express his opinions, then--later--because he COULD not do so.
When did this happen? I wonder. When did picking out his clothes every morning become "I WANT TO WEAR MY GAP SHIRT!"? When did me planning birthday parties based on color schemes become, "I WILL HAVE THOMAS HAT AND THOMAS PLATE AND THOMAS CUP, MOM."?
I'm not ready for him to stop being a baby, but I have to be. Because I'm so, so proud of the kid he's become.
My hand hovers just a moment more, saying a sad goodbye to diapers and Super Why and the complete DEPENDENCE my sweet boy had on me for so long.
And I take just a moment to be proud that my voice does not wobble with my "Goodnight, baby," as I turn out the light.