I am the parent that always struggles with birthdays. I get sentimental and mopey and teary-eyed, thinking about how my children are growing up and moving one year further away from their babyhood and one year closer to adulthood. I look through old pictures and videos and cry, because I’m an idiot.
Needless to say, when Sir Calvin, my babiest of babies, turned four a week ago, I was a bit of a mess. I’m not having anymore babies, I don’t WANT anymore babies, but I also don’t like seeing the little boy who completed our family grow up.
I miss the tiny newborn who I would snuggle close and pat his little tush to get him to sleep. I miss the chunky, happy baby and his constant babbles and declarations of “dada”, regardless of how many times I tried to get him to say “mama”. I miss the curious toddler who turned anything he could find into a car, dragging it back and forth across the coffee table.
And now he’s four, which seems SO OLD. Only a year away from kindergarten.
But four is just a number. He didn’t transform into a different kid overnight between May 29th and 30th.
He’s still the little boy who carries around his pile of security blankets (about five birdseye cloth diapers that he calls his Bs). Who says “lellow” instead of yellow, but is practicing the proper way to say it by repeating “Yeeees. YeLLOW” over and over. Who is more often naked than clothed. Who says “Mommy, watch this!” about 5,000 times a day.
Nothing has changed. No, he’s not that newborn or baby or toddler anymore. But I accepted that a long time ago.
Luckily, aging is a fairly slow and gradual process. We don’t see our children (or ourselves, our spouses, or our parents) growing older right before our eyes. We don’t notice it until it’s already happened. Until we look at proof from times passed that we all used to be in different phases of life.
But instead of mourning the loss of his babyhood, I am trying to allow myself to enjoy each phase as it comes. When he was a baby, I didn’t get to watch him attempt cartwheels with his sisters. Or listen to him say big words like actually and suddenly and enormous in his tiny little voice.
I mean, he spends his days playing tee ball instead of eating random things off the floor. If that’s not something to appreciate, I don’t know what is.
He has grown into this amazing little boy with long, curly hair and the most infectious smile that shows off the dimple on his right cheek. He loves race cars and monster trucks and Nerf guns. He sings along gleefully to songs on the radio. He is addicted to Peppa Pig and sometimes talks in a British accent, just like Peppa and my mom. He is agile and fearless. His body and mouth are constantly moving and he just sort of passes out wherever he lands. He is stubborn and spirited and completely exhausting.
But he is still the same soul that I brought into the world four years ago. And he is still mine.
Happy Birthday, Calvin Mark Lewis. You may not be a baby anymore, but that’s okay. I absolutely adore the little person that you have grown into.