This is now officially my season to freak out. It seems to me, most moms spend so much of their days trying to savor time with their small children, using hashtags like #staylittleforever and #stopgrowing. Although I have buckets of memories with my kids as babies and I’ll never, ever forget the sound of a onesie snapping or the feel of drool-soaked terry cloth bibs…it’s not been a secret that I’ve thought for years that the older stages might be a better mom-fit for me. As Jack is 8 now, it does seem to be true. Our relationship still holds its tension, but it’s so durable now, it has breathing room, and it’s just so much easier. I celebrate this and all of the hard work our family puts in to grow together. Plus, it’s nice that my children can speak cohesively and put on their own socks. But, I can finally say that I’d be okay if the clock stopped ticking. I’m having “Young-5s-versus-Kindergarten” discussions about Oliver and no matter what we decide, he will be in school next year. The days of buddying around with him will be over. He’s headed for the big, wide world and although I’m so excited for him, I am actually fighting back a bit on the inside.
Although age 4 did bring about some attitude changes for Ollie (he can now talk back to me like a sassy, entitled teenager. Who knew?), this boy continues to be the warmth our family needs.
His cuddly kindness goes with him everywhere. And despite that he will always be “Jack’s Little Brother”, he has an identity all his own now. I hope I never forget the first time I realized this. During the summer, I attended a training for another class to teach at MVP called Group Centergy. The culmination of the training involved submitting a videotape of me teaching an hour-long memorized routine of yoga and Pilates movements set to music. In order for me to have the practice time I needed, I put Oliver in an all-day Sports Camp at the gym for a week. Already, this was a big deal. 2-3 hours, sure. But all day? Obviously, that’d be too much.
He thrived. I remember picking him up one day and received a message from his camp counselor that another mom wanted to connect with me because her son (who is a bit older) bonded with Oliver so well. This was a HUGE moment for me. Maybe I’m not alone here…but do you have pivotal moments where you just realize more deeply and truly that your kids are actual people leading their OWN lives? That they have, as Michael W. Smith put it, “a place in this world”? I just couldn’t believe that Ollie was noticed. Our family can so easily be the “Jack Show”. But things were changing and we now had another star to feature.
Not only did Oliver find a wonderful new buddy at Sports Camp, but God was actually up to something even greater. We have found such a wonderful friendship with this family, and it didn’t take long for me and this other mama to deeply trust one another. It’s been so good for Jack to see that Oliver is his own person with his own friends.
I’m not sure exactly what program he will be in next year. But his name will be on some class list, his backpack will include his lunch, and I’ll have to somehow utter the phrase, “I’ll pick you up at 3:30.” (It’s not okay to sit in your car in the school parking lot for 7 hours, is it?) Until that day, I will join the #staylittleforever movement, soaking in every memory and milestone I can with the little man who will truly always be my baby.