Your baby is born and every inch of that little thing is so new and so foreign, but he’s immediately yours and you have no choice but to become intimately acquainted.
You wash, you wipe, you dress, you comb. He’s yours. That little birthmark on his leg, the swirl of his hair, that gnarly little toenail. Every inch is suddenly so familiar and you can’t recall a time not knowing it.
He grows. You unfold those pudgy baby rolls when you bathe him. You oh-so-carefully holding your breath clip those delicate nails. You kiss boo-boos. You clean that messy face. You rock him to sleep.
He’s your baby. He’s yours. Every single inch of him.
You blow raspberries on that adorable little belly to hear that laugh over and over. He holds your hand. He asks to be held. You wipe. And, yes, you even lick your finger to clean his face even though you swore you never would. You still get to rock him to sleep.
You grab his hand in the parking lot relieved he no longer puts up a fight. You help him build towers and hide in his forts. You get hugs and sloppy kisses. But they’re the sweetest kisses.
The diapers go, changing table gets packed up. No more wipes – you just have to yell “make sure you flush and wash your hands!” He can do that himself now too.
Baths eventually change over to showers, but you’re still there to make sure the shampoo is rinsed out and the dirt is scrubbed off his knees. He needs you to hand him his towel too.
He dresses himself – buttons, zippers, snaps and all. He’s learned to tie his own shoes. And his legs are looking a little furrier than you remember.
And then one day before you know it, he collides with another soccer player – a knee to his thigh. He’s down. You go check on him, see where he’s bruised – up high on his leg. And it hits you. That’s his leg. It’s not yours anymore. You don’t have that familiarity you once did. Oh yeah, there’s that birthmark. But he knows this leg better than you. He washes it. He dresses it. He closes the door when he pees (FINALLY!). It’s his leg. It’s not yours.
It was a seamless transition – a celebrated one even. He’s becoming self-sufficient! It’s what you want! But it still makes a tiny little ache that the little stage is over and that chunky little monkey you once cradled is far beyond the toddler “I can do it myself!” because he CAN do it himself. It’s amazing to watch who this kid is becoming. He’s his own person in so many ways (but still so much me it can be scary sometimes) and the letting go really has a physical component that I’d never even considered. So while I still can, I’ll take every hug, every snuggle demand, every hand hold I can get. He’s definitely becoming his own, but this all-too-brief moment in time, he’s still mine.