It's terribly late and I really should be in bed asleep right now, but I just need to write and process, and give a voice to the thoughts in my head.
Tonight was one of those times that mothers with older children warned me about back when Camden was still a baby. About how motherhood only gets harder as they get older, and how I should enjoy the "easy" days of him being so little. I remember feeling irritated and a little patronized when women would lecture me (I'm sure with the best of intentions) about all the things I would soon discover as my babies got older. I felt like they were talking to me like a 5 year old before her first day of kindergarten. I remember thinking, "Woman, I haven't gotten more than 90 minutes of solid sleep at a time in I don't know how long! My baby is in a cast that makes him scream in pain almost constantly. I spend all day wiping up poop and feeling like a dairy cow and you're telling me this is easy compared to having a kid who's self-sufficient and in school most of the day? Sorry lady, but I'm not buying it!"
But it does get harder, in it's own way. Tonight I had to hold my ground on an issue with Camden. In the end it became a matter of principle more than the actual issue at hand, but I've learned that those can be the hardest battles to fight. The words coming out of my my mouth were firm and undeterred, but in my head I didn't know what to do. I knew I had to follow through, but was I being too hard on him? Did I need to back off? Or hold my ground? I had no idea. But it was a battle that in the end I felt I lost. Sure, I got my way, but I watched him, blinking back angry tears, realizing that at that moment he was probably thinking how much he hated me. And I felt like I had lost a little piece of him.
Starting from the moment of conception, a woman becomes a mother and a changed being- permanently and fundamentally. From that moment on, every decision she makes affects another human being in one way or another. But from the moment the child leaves the womb, that little human begins inching away towards independence from the woman who was once his literal lifeline. Some days they move away imperceptibly, and other days in leaps. But no matter how far away they move from us, we are still a mother. They are still the one who changed us, heart and soul. They've brought out the very worst in us at times, but they've also brought out the very best that we never knew existed. A woman can never again become the person she was before she nurtured a life within herself.
As I watched his angry eyes, I had a flash-back of my little man, back when he was a baby and it was just the three of us. I could do no wrong in his eyes back then. His eyes lit up every time I came in the room and his smile made my heart melt. Nine years have gone by and he looks so much like he did when he was a baby, just older, and at the moment, angrier.
I think the advice from the well-intended, nostalgic women from when Camden was a baby was probably lamentation disguised as lecturing. Perhaps what they meant to say was, "Relish these days when he is still yours, entirely and completely, because it's hard as hell when he starts to think he's outgrown you. But don't get too discouraged. It's worth it. Not just in the end, but now as well."
And it is worth it. I love you, my little man.