My youngest son turned seven last month.
At first, I didn’t think much of it. We’d just moved the month before, and I was caught up in the details of unpacking, putting together my home, and adjusting my two boys to their new schools and new routines.
As for my son’s birthday, I was primarily focused on his party, which was happening so soon after the move and after school started that I was kind of totally freaking out.
I wanted to make sure his friends from his old school would show up, and that some new friends could make it too. I wanted to sure that we got his favorite cake (Carvel ice cream cake…yum!), the flying rocket goody bag gifts he requested — and just generally that the party would go off without a hitch and he would get everything he wanted.
All went well, he spent his birthday party smiling from ear to ear for two hours, and this mama was happy. Whew.
It was all so hectic, though, that I hadn’t considered just what a milestone this birthday was — what a big deal seven was to me, his mama. That is, until last week, when it all hit me like a ton of bricks and I turned into a wet blubbering mess for a few days.
That Saturday night, my husband and I went out to a family wedding. We were going to be gone for the evening and my mom was going to be watching my boys. The idea of going out and doing something adult was a bit of an exhausting prospect to me (I don’t get out a lot!), but I noted for the first time in a long time that I wasn’t feeling the least bit anxious about leaving my kids for the entire evening.
I wasn’t even worried about my youngest, as I often am. After all, he was seven now, a big boy!
All went well. My husband and I had a good time. There we no frantic texts from my mom while we were out, and nothing seemed out of place when we got back.
But as soon as I walked in the door, Mr. 7 ran up to me, wrapped his arms around me and cried into my belly. “I missed you so much,” he said, between sobs. “I love you, I love you, I love you!”
It was late, and he was a little bleary-eyed and tired. “Let’s get you to bed,” said, in a bit of rush.
But he continued to cling to me at bedtime and insisted that I “hug him tight” as he was falling asleep. At first, I was feeling a little reluctant to do so. I’d been on my feet all evening, in very uncomfortable shoes. I was exhausted AF and just wanted to veg out for a little while on my phone.
But this child wanted my full attention as his sweet little body drifted off to sleep.
And that’s when it hit me, as I lay there, feeling his body melt into into my arms and into dreamland.
This is it, I thought. These are the last moments of his babyhood.
I was trying to remember the last time I’d held his big brother, now 12, in my arms as he fell asleep. I was trying to remember when last time was that my 12-year-old had cried into my shirt after I’d been out for a few hours.
I wouldn’t remember the exact last time, but I know that 7 was pretty close to the end of all that. By 8, he was a full fledged, eye-rolling tween, and though he still sure needed his mama then (and still does), it was not in such a physical way.
Seven still fits in your lap. Seven still clings. Seven still tells you they miss you when you’re gone. Seven still runs up to you and wraps their arms all the way around you and squeezes. Seven still cries into your shirt.
Seven is closer to five or six than it is to nine or ten. Seven is a big kid in so many ways, but is still a little kid around the edges. Seven still has soft, mossy little kid hair, and most of their baby teeth. Seven isn’t in the “upper grades” at school yet. Seven might have sass and can certainly be a wise-ass, but seven still retains some of the innocence of childhood.
As I lay there inhaling seven — I swear I could still smell some of that baby scent in his hair — I felt the tears start to come. My seven is my last baby, and I don’t know when the last time will be that he makes me crawl into bed with him and hug him tight until he falls asleep.
I don’t know when the last time will be that he’ll press his little face on the window of the school bus as it drives off, looking at me with longing. I don’t know when the last time will be that he’ll ask to spend his entire sick day curled into my lap while I attempt to get some work done on my computer.
I don’t know when the last time will be for any of that, but I do know it will happen fast, and soon, and I probably won’t even be aware of when all of the “lasts” are because life is a little heartless like that.
But I do know that I will hold onto seven for dear life. Because I’m a mama and I don’t have any other choice.