Ever have one of those parenting moments that hit you right in the soul? And then you get all emotional, and even though you’re fully aware of the fact you’re being totally ridiculous there’s nothing you can do stop it? That happened to me tonight while I was tucking my 10-year-old son into bed, and it left me gasping for breath. I shouldn’t have been so surprised after what had happened earlier in the evening. My husband left the room while I was flipping channels, and when he returned a mere three minutes later I was watching “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and weeping. Mamma’s got a lot of emotion tonight, and apparently seeing a very young Dick Van Dyke sing the haunting lullaby “Hushabye Mountain” was more than I could handle. It brought a flood of emotions and memories from growing up, as well as an unexpected wave of longing for the fast-waning childhood of my own two boys. I generally try not to be a clingy parent, but am also increasingly and painfully aware that my moments with them are slipping by far too quickly. Sometimes I see them growing up right before my eyes and I just can’t stand it. I had also spent a large part of the day today trying not to dwell on some regrets about things I wish I had done differently in their younger years. Regret is a funny thing- it makes us forget all the good while we focus on the bad. Regret is also a place in which I try not to dwell, but for some reason tonight it was harder to fight.
I managed to pull myself together and went to tuck my eldest son into bed. I lay down beside him in the dark and held him as I began to sing a lullaby. I didn’t get many words out before the tears started streaming down my cheeks. I stopped singing and held him as tightly as I could, already mourning the time when he would no longer want Mommy to tuck him in at night. He is right at the cusp of turning into a tween, but I can still picture him as an infant like it was yesterday. As proud as I am of the amazing young man he is becoming, sometimes I miss that chubby-cheeked little baby so much that it hurts. What I wouldn’t give to feel that tiny little body resting against mine just one more time.
So tonight I held fast to my big boy, wishing that I could somehow freeze time and remember forever how it feels: to be Mommy, to be needed, and to be loved unconditionally (before all that teen angst and aloofness sets in).
My son noticed that I had stopped singing and instead had begun shaking a little bit. He asked, “Um, what are you doing?”
“Just crying,” I replied.
“I was just thinking how proud I am of you, how much I love you, and how you’re growing up so fast *sob*. I am just feeling a lot of feelings and am a little bit overwhelmed.”
(Teasingly)~ “You’re weird.”
Then we laughed, and I kissed my son goodnight and closed the door. Knowing that in the morning he will be one day older, one day closer to sailing far away from me. I just hope that our moments together and the lessons I have tried to teach him will be enough. Enough to help him be brave and strong out there in the world. And enough to always help him find his way back home.
*So close your eyes on Hushabye Mountain
Wave goodbye, to cares of the day
And watch your boat from Hushabye Mountain
Sail far away from Lullaby Bay
(*Lyrics from “Hushabye Mountain” in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The image at the top of this post is from one of my favorite Fairy Tale books. A book that I regret never reading to my children, but plan on changing that regret tomorrow…)
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