He gets my jokes. The sincerity of the smile that spreads across his face when I say something that really makes him laugh threatens to crack my heart right in two. He is sensitive, but in a shy kind of hidden way. I catch glimpses of it in his eyes when he leans down to kiss his littlest brother goodnight. When he pats his football playing brother on the shoulder after a game. He's smart in a Doogie Howser kind of way, although you'd never know because he keeps that part of himself under wraps too, plugging through geometry proofs for which, thank goodness he doesn't need any help from me. One of his best friends is a girl, who he laughs with, checks in with, and affirms on the daily. He has a heart of gold.
He's braver than any other eleven-year-old I know. Although he's covered in bruises from football practice, he doesn't complain. Those bruises, both the ones obvious to the naked eye, and the ones residing deep down inside, are building character, grit, and determination. He's been affectionately nicknamed "The Magic Man" for the magic that he works on and off the field. He's my most observant child, the first to notice my haircut or to tell me I look pretty. He's unashamedly attached to people and to memories. Inside jokes abound with this one, and he can make me laugh like no other. A teacher once told me he was going to be a great husband. I quite agree.
His baby feet are softer than the softest satin, even though at five years old, he's hardly a baby anymore. When he wraps his legs around my waist and his arms around my neck, I feel there is no greater purpose I was made for other than to care for him. He cracks us all up with his silly voices and the way he incorporates big words into conversation--words like contentment and compromise. He's a wiz at puzzles and it's only a matter of time before he'll be reading the bedtimes stories to me instead of me to him. He traipses all over the neighborhood with his eleven-year-old brother, but he still lets me sing to him at night, and asks me to please "belcrow" his ninja costume for him. He's our hardest worker, taking his job of feeding Hattie seriously. He's always the first to pitch in when I ask for help in the kitchen.
My kids are pretty great. And yet. I still yearn for the days when I can have a conversation with my teen without his phone stealing half of his attention. When I can process a thought without the shake, rattle, and roll of my eleven year old hammering out the beat of a song he's loving at the moment. And when my five-year old will be able to fall asleep on his own, without needing me or one of his brothers in the bed with him.
But by wishing for all these things to be true, am I missing the moments in the here and now? I know it hurts my teen's feelings when I complain about his "teenage behavior," instead of celebrating his big heart. I am positive my eleven-year-old feels defeated when at the height of his drumming I shout, "GO UPSTAIRS OR BE QUIET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" instead of loving him through his loudness (this is the one I need the most grace for). And, when my five-year-old starts sleeping in his bed by himself, I will miss cuddling with him while he drifts off to dreamland. These moments flutter by, just outside my grasp, and if I blink, I may not appreciate the vastness of their scope, the breadth of their beauty.
Life is all memory,
except for the one present moment that goes by so quickly
you hardly catch it going.
So I vow to be present. To savor my children where they are. Here and now. Because in a moment, it'll all be a memory.