The other day my ten-year-old son called me something so shocking that it stopped me in my tracks. I couldn't even say anything, just stared at him with my mouth agape as he walked toward his room.
He called me ...
This is a kid who I naively thought would call us "Mommy" and "Daddy" for the rest of his life. While my younger boys waver back and forth between Mommy and Mom - in fact, my five-year-old has called me "Mom" almost since he started saying it - my oldest has always been steadfastly in the "Mommy" camp. He has literally never called me Mom in his entire life ... that is, until the other day.
"Thanks, Mom," he said, sounding startlingly grown-up, in a voice that was too deep to have possibly come from my baby. I watched him retreat casually toward his room, like he hadn't just said something that shook his poor mother to her very core.
He's in his last year of elementary school now. And although he's still small for his age, his shape is changing; he's getting that gangly-limbed look, like an awkward colt - which seems impossible given the massive quantities of food he puts away. He still likes to play with his brothers, but his interests are gradually diverging. Here and there, he's starting to exhibit the huffs, the slumps, the eye-rolls, those preferred means of teenage communication that I'm sure will get worse before they get better.
I know it's inevitable, this growing up thing, but ... wasn't he just this sweet little toddler? Wasn't that only, like, a few months ago?
Motherhood has tested me in a lot of ways, and throughout a decade of mommying four little boys, I've become a pro at changing diapers and diffusing toddler meltdowns and wiping butts and predicting when someone is going to throw up before they spew all over the floor. I'm confident in my abilities to raise little kids.
But nobody has ever matured on me before. Not quite like this. And I know I'm only at the beginning of the roller coaster ride. Funny how the simple, unassuming utterance of the word "Mom" could set off so many shockwaves of emotion. The surprise of realization. The awe, the wonder, at how fast the time has gone - tinged with the grief of letting it go. And the gnawing feeling that I have very little idea of what I'm in for, because this is a threshold we've never before had to cross. You can't see around the next corner, but you have to keep going anyway because that's how life works.
Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go snuggle my three-year-old. Otherwise I'll blink and he'll be gone, too.