Today my baby turns eight. And as it is always the case with the littlest of my clan, I reflect on the end of an age that I will no longer mother. There are no truer words spoken than those of a seasoned mother saying that it all goes by so fast.
I remember hearing those words with my firstborn, when sleep was elusive and patience had dwindled, and thinking I understood the sentiment. But if only he would get just a little older, a bit more independent, a tad self sufficient. As I sit here and type, that firstborn is sixteen and starting his junior year of high school. A mere 24 months away from heading off to college.
So when Eli was born, eight years after his oldest brother, I thought I had a handle on this acceleration of time. I understood that all too soon he would be headed off to Kindergarten. So I took every moment I could to soak him in.
I can still close my eyes and feel the weight of him as he lay on my chest. His wisps of hair swaying with the exhale of breathe as I would lean in to kiss the top of his head. With the inhale I could soak my senses in that absolutely intoxicating newborn smell. One hand I had placed on the slight bumps of his impossibly small vertebrae. The other cupped under that diaper padded bottom. His heels tickling the back of my hand as his knees were drawn up under his body. I laid there in my exhaustion and purposefully took in every aspect of that moment. Chiseling it into permanence in my memory. This was my baby and I would not let it slip by.
Now eight years have. I have lived up to my promise to myself. I take the time to soak in the sweetness of the age and try to remember the tiny things that will soon be gone. This year the moment that sticks with me most was at the summer camp we work at as a family. Chapel had begun and everyone was singing worship music.
Eli came and stood next to me, swaying with the beat of the band. As he has done for every year, he put his arms up and I picked him up. Placing him on my hip I swayed and sang with him.
I started to read him the words before they were sung, and realized that he could read them himself. My breathes began to be labored between choruses and I felt the weight of a seven year old boy pulling on my body. Then the tears pooled at the edges of my eyes, because in that moment I realized that this was our last song. Almost nine will be too old, too heavy, too mature. Next year this will not happen.
I have been blessed to have raised four sons through the age of seven. My favorite number. And I have completed that task. It is onward and upwards. The greatest reminder when it comes to all of this is Eli himself. When I remark to him that he is my baby, he can’t grow up, he turns to me and says “Mommy, I can’t stop getting older. I will get bigger every day. I have to.” With those words of wisdom, we are on to eight. And eight is great.