I know my son is growing up before my very eyes. The changes happen every day. He can do so many things without my assistance now! The list is endless: opening the fridge to grab a snack, using the bathroom, letting the dog out, just to name a few. He talks in long sentences using a vocabulary that stuns me daily. He leaves me both excited and scared at how he sucks up knowledge like a sponge.
I worked very hard to mentally prepare myself for his growing autonomy. I know there are blessings and challenges that go with helping him learn to do things without me. So, I scour the doctor’s office’s notes that list the changes that should come over the next few months. I ask mom friends for advice on his sleeping and eating habits. I read parenting books and try to keep myself rooted in encouragement in this busy season. At the same time, I try to anticipate what comes next in our journey together as mom and son. But then he hit me with something that I was completely unprepared to hear.
I’m not sure where he picked it up. Maybe it was from a friend at preschool or a show we watched, but it stopped me in my tracks. One simple word in a perfectly normal request hit me right in the chest and nearly knocked me over.
He called me “Mom.”
That sweet, little, high-pitched three-year-old voice has called my name for help more times than could ever be counted. It was one of the first words he uttered. He has cried my name in frustration when he wanted something I wouldn’t give him. My name was shouted with glee when I returned home from a kid-free trip to the grocery store.
He has whispered my name softly to wake me up in the middle of the night when he couldn’t sleep. But that name has always been “Mommy.”
Outwardly, I brushed right past the change, acted like nothing was different, and handed him the milk he had requested. Inwardly, I was overwhelmed and crying. I’m sure in his mind he was trying out some new “big boy” language as he said it. I know he can’t possibly comprehend the immense pull he has on my heartstrings when he says “Mom.” Every time he says it, I stop and think. How do I hang on to the precious sweetness of my little baby; the boy that made me “Mommy?” Why have I been caught so off guard by this one little word?
I can’t control this journey.
What throws me off balance about my new name is the reminder that I have so little control over this journey. He’s going to grow up, regardless of how much I might plead for time to slow down. I desperately want all the time in the world to store up precious memories with him. This is my baby that I prayed for. Why does he have to grow up so fast?!
I know this won’t be the last thing that will make me catch my breath and wonder why my time with him is disappearing without my consent. I’ve already packed up so many of the sweet baby clothes that he outgrew without any regard for what it might do to my emotions. I’ve been caught emotionally buying the next size up in diapers, and the thought of having to replace the child-size hangers in his closet with bigger ones makes me tear up a little. Hearing the name “Mom” is now just one more daily reminder to savor this season, because he’s going to grow up. I don’t have any control over that.
No matter the name, I will always be his mother.
As much as I want to cling to the relationship we have right now, and as much as I may mourn his growing autonomy, I have the ultimate blessing of being his mother. That will never change, no matter what name he may choose for me. I have the privilege and responsibility of shaping him and training him for the future. I get to provide him with the skills he needs to be uniquely him in a vast and sometimes treacherous world. I’ll take comfort in the fact that he was given to me in order so that he might grow and be a blessing to others. I will simply work my absolute hardest to ensure he has the skills to do just that.
In the meantime, I’ll get used to my new name, “Mom,” and treasure all the moments as they whizz by me.