I cried watching him play outside.
I loved playing outside with friends as a kid. I can remember going to their front door and saying “can so-and-so play?” and vice versa. We’d ride bikes, play Ghost in the Graveyard, go on treasure hunts, play on the swing set, etc. I obviously don’t remember what age I started doing these things and I’m sure it was probably years before my mom and dad let me go off on my own. And I guess I hadn’t really thought about that time coming with my own kids because I’ve been in la la land with my little toddler. But then it happened…
We were sitting around watching football on Sunday when we could hear the neighborhood kids playing in our front yard. And then on our front door step. They were riding their scooters and running and laughing and Nolan heard them. He was staring out our front door window like a sad puppy dog and I asked if he wanted to go outside and say hi. So we opened the front door and they swarmed him; started telling him their names, ages, favorite colors, etc. And then…they asked if he wanted to come outside and play. And he was off.
That was it. Now obviously I’m not going to let my almost 3-year old run the neighborhood by himself, but I didn’t mind sitting at the front window and watching him scooter with his newfound friends in our front yard. But this was just the beginning. Later that evening, one of the girls came over and asked if she could come in. And then yesterday, he saw them playing outside again and begged to go out and play. I watched him like a hawk from the front window and no joke, I broke into a fit of tears while sitting at the table with Z. I was heartbroken.
When did this happen? How was he so grown up? Was it going to be this way for the rest of our lives now? Wanting to go and play with his friends instead of us? Would he still want to play with me? Was everything going to be different now?
Nolan’s my baby. He was my rock on Zach’s first deployment and he still sleeps with me for most of the night. And although I have tried to get him to sleep in his own bed, I know that there’s going to be a day when he doesn’t want to anymore. I mean, he literally just asked me if he could play with the kids when they get home from school. Am I not good enough anymore?
I’m not naive. I know that eventually, all of these things are going to happen. I guess I was just so consumed with everything else going on that I never really stopped to realize how lucky I was and am to spend all day with him and soak up these moments. That my baby is going to be 3 in a few weeks and that slowly, I’ll be losing precious moments with him to friends, school, and life.
I know he will love me and I will always be his mommy, but my heart just hurts knowing we’re reaching an age where things will be starting to change. I’m afraid he will hear things from other kids or pick up habits I’m not so fond of. I’m afraid he won’t need me as much anymore and to be honest, it really scares the shit out of me.
But as much as I want to hold onto him and never let go, I know I have to. I know that there’s going to be times when he wants his friends and times when he wants me. He won’t be running the neighborhood for awhile (or maybe ever considering how scary this world is these days). So for now, I’ll keep a close watch on his every move through my front or back window, and cherish the time he does want me.
Growing up sucks; it’s no fun to be the one growing up or the one watching your baby grow up. But it’s life… and the only thing you can do is make the most of it and cherish it while you can. To enjoy every “mommy, I need you” when he’s crying or “mommy, will you play with me?” To snuggle when they ask, to wipe their tears when they’re sad, and to love them as hard and as much as you can.