The other night as I was putting my boys to bed, which I do every night, we said our prayers and performed the obligatory tucking-in. I usually do something sweet or annoying, by example, during the prayer I brush each boys cheek with my hand as I say their name during the prayer... or flick them in the forehead. You just never know what you're gonna get with me. So, there I was, saying prayers and flicking foreheads, walking from bed to bed, when I paused to look my oldest son square in the face , who, by the way, gets the benefit of being the oldest as evidenced by top bunk. The pause lingered as I stared into his sweet face and I realized that he would never be 9 again, since his birthday was the following day. I know. Not a real "revelation", but it kind of was for me. In response to that, I smothered him with smooches, reminding him that this was my last chance before he turned 10. It's odd being a parent. Most parents I know are either sinking in frustration and confusion or are so together there is no room for commiseration. I find myself in the middle. I'm not overwhelmed with parenthood, nor am I so confident in my ability that I never question my decisions, but I like to think that I do alright. It is moments like these that I realize how quickly time passes, which I know is something that every person over the age of 28 will tell you, but it is nonetheless true.
On the morning of his big double digit birthday, I made sure that I was the first to get his 10 year old kisses, though in our family (3 boys and 1 baby girl), I didn't exactly have to beat anyone to get to the front of the line. As Jacob (you can read more about him here) grows and matures, the innocence and eagerness in his face will continue to fade and eventually, he will become a man. I will no longer have the opportunity to tuck him in or flick his forehead (well, perhaps flicking will still be a viable option), I will no longer be the person stealing the last and first kisses of his birthday; my role will become a part of the foundation upon which his life was built; still important, significantly less visible, which is bittersweet, since I definitely desire that he be moved out at a reasonable age (18-22) and eventually be married and begin a family of his own. But it's like anything else in this life... fleeting. Eventually, his cheeks will be stubbled and I will (hopefully) have to reach it by standing on my tippy toes to place a simple discreet, motherly kiss. So, while I can, I will steal first kisses and smother all of my children with the last smooches for each age, even as they giggle and try to push me away playfully.