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He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Baby

He's Not HeavyLast week I had the backbreaking task of carrying a 60-plus pound boy up and down numerous stairs in a subway station. E and I had gone to a minor league baseball game with a bunch of friends and we started home way past his bedtime (mine too, actually).

As soon as we got on the train, he fell fast asleep. So when we got to our stop, I gave a friend my bag, and lifted up my sleeping child. He was complete deadweight and I kept having to stop and adjust him, as well as catch my breath. It was my hardest workout of the week and left me completely exhausted.

I loved every minute of it.

You see, E is seven now (almost eight, if you ask him) and growing more independent by the day. Its amazing to see him growing into his own person – taking books off the shelf to read, finding Harry Potter previews on the computer, and (loudly) voicing his own opinions about scabs and scars, baseball, and the world in general.

But it saddens me a bit too. Where is that boy who would finish dinner and climb into my lap while I finished mine? Gone, baby, gone. I know that growing up is hard to do…I just never imagined it would be harder on me.

I remember walking E to kindergarten and there was a “big boy” walking to school by himself. E’s head swiveled to follow the kid as he passed us. He looked at me terrified, “Where’s that boy’s mommy?” he whispered.

“Well,” I explained, “at a certain age some kids walk to school by themselves.” His eyes got even wider.

“I never want to walk to school by myself,” he said as he hand clutched mine. “Will you always walk me to school?”

“Of course I will, baby,” I reassured him. Then I skipped all the way home.

Three days into second grade this year E looked at me and asked, “So when am I going to be able to walk to school by myself?”

I desperately wanted to say, “When you’re in college I have no problem with you walking to class alone…as long as you call me when you get there.” I bit my tongue and told him that he is not allowed (school rules, not mine so I’m off the hook) until third grade. That seemed to appease him until the end of the year.

Then one sunny day in June we got to the school’s corner and he looked at me and said, “Good-bye.”

“What do you mean?” I countered, “I walk you to the door.”

“Can you leave me here on the corner from now on?”

“I’ll walk you halfway,” I muttered.

There was no skipping home that day.

A month ago E got strep. We had a doctor’s appointment the next day, but he was feeling pretty crappy that night. His throat hurt, it was hard for him to swallow, and he was starting to spike a fever. He was tired and feeling poorly, and acting like a baby. Don’t get me wrong – I mean that in the best possible sense of the word.

“Can you pick me up and carry me to my room for bed?”

“Of course, love,” I said.

“And put my pajamas on too?”

“You bet, baby. Anything you want.”

As I was carrying him (I dutifully ignored his feet smacking into my shins), he murmured in my ear, “Thanks, Mom. You take care of me best.” Sometimes that’s all a girl needs.

The following Monday he asked me to leave him at the corner of school again. Sigh.

Did I mention that E now drops my hand after we cross the street. It kills me. Kills me.  I’m a very hand-holding kind of gal, and I loved having that little boy hand in mine when we walk around. Those days are gone with the wind, friend. Sometimes, just sometimes, when he is talking (or maybe he forgets that holding your mom’s hand isn’t cool) he keeps holding. During those moments I refuse to itch or switch arms for my bag –anything to make it last a little longer. I usually get another fifty feet…and it’s worth every second.

E is a great kid. He’s smart and sweet, and has a good head on his shoulders. It’s true that I miss the times that he would call me before he got out of bed in the morning. (Now he runs into the kitchen and scares the living daylights out of me…daily.) But I love watching him grow up and develop. I might reminisce about the hand-holding of days past, but I wouldn’t change these present days for the world.

And if he falls asleep on the subway again, who am I to wake him?

Author: Stacey Linden

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