I think I started feeling this way the moment my son was born: he’s not mine. Not mine alone anymore. In those early days as I watched other people cuddle him, diaper him and talk with him I realized the days of having him all to myself snuggled tightly in my belly were over. Other people were going to love him, effort to soothe him and build their own relationships with him. It was strange at first but every day that has gone by has been a teeny tiny step toward him not being mine alone.
I take him to preschool, where without me along he is loved by the teachers and the other kids. They have their own inside jokes and their own stories – many of which I’m sure I will never know. One of the teachers has been doing his hair into so many amazing braids. (Seeing my kid with a crown braid? Swoon!) It’s so sweet and it’s all a part of slowly slowly letting go. He’s still just a small child who will need me for years to come, but I can already see the day when he really won’t. And it’s not that far off in the future.
I had an unusual childhood where I struck out on my own at fifteen years old and was legally emancipated at sixteen. That’s about twelve years from now for him. I hope he doesn’t have to do what I did. But knowing that his ability to handle this world on his own is just over a decade away. It’s nuts. I keep hearing that saying “the days are long but the years are short” and it’s so true and it’s kind of a punch in the gut, too. As trite as it is – it really is true. The last few years have flown by. I feel like it was just last week that I found out I was pregnant. But then I think back on all the emotions, the beautiful days and hard days and see the schema – that giant accordion file folder – of his life unfold in my brain, I know it’s all there. It’s safe. Until I lose my memory I have nothing to be sad about. We’ve lived everyday and while not every day has been the most savorable – I am really trying to appreciate the privilege of being able to be a parent at all and peek behind that secret curtain of how families live.
So every day he is less and less mine. And it’s pretty special to watch.