I awkwardly stood next to the swing set at the playground. “I’m good, Mom. I can do it on my own,” barreled out of my son’s mouth as he pumped his legs and swung higher and higher. He was exploding with laughter and sense of accomplishment. I smiled, acknowledging him as a big kid. He doesn’t need me to push him on the swings anymore and that doesn’t make me sad.
The sliding glass door flung open and he rushed in from playing soccer in the backyard. “Hey, Buddy! Do you need something?” He walked over to the cabinet, pulled out a cup and fixed himself a water. “Whew, I’m thirsty, Mom!” I slowly sat back down at the kitchen table realizing that he was officially tall enough to reach the cups all by himself. He no longer needed me to get him a drink and that doesn’t make me sad.
The sound of the toilet flushing and footsteps racing around the corner echoed through my house. “Do you need some help?” He caught a glimpse of me and proudly announced that he took care of it. He doesn’t need me and that doesn’t make me sad.
As we neared the door of his pre-k classroom, he quickly placed his lunch box in his cubby and rushed to the block center with his friends. I offered a good-bye from across the room and waved. He came running back to me throwing his arms around my neck and kissing my cheek with a smile. I knew he didn’t need that hug. He did it because he recognized that I did…and that doesn’t make me sad.
Everyday there is something new that I am no longer needed for. The first time it happened it knocked the air out of me. It was a cold and desolate feeling. He had needed me for his everything: my womb, my milk, my voice in the middle of the night. He needed me to change his diaper and to hold his tiny little fingers as he took those first wobbly steps. He needed me to pick out his clothes and give him a bath. He needed me to push him on the swings. He needed that embrace and promise that mommy was going to be back soon when I left him at preschool. I needed those things too.
As I stand next to the swing set watching his childhood sway back and forth without my assistance, I am not sad. I cherish those precious times where he was nestled into my chest at the end of a long day, but I don’t spend my time yearning for those moments. We are here now. My baby is no longer a baby, he is a growing boy. He wakes up every morning ready to discover the world and it is nothing short of magical. This is absolutely the best stage of his life… and tomorrow will be the same. I am not sad that he is growing up right before my eyes. I am in awe of this incredible little human and the amazing things he is able to accomplish everyday without my help.