One day, sooner than I anticipate, my sons will cease being boys and will be men. Just yesterday, they were toddlers, taking orders and delivering pretend pizzas in their Lil’ Tykes car. They were little boys building massive Bionicles. But in a blink of the eye, they will be standing in a church waiting for their bride to walk toward them or gearing up to deploy to a foreign land, with an assault rifle slung across their shoulders. They will go off to college then have a career and make a family. Yet, when they sleep, the remnant of the baby boys they once were will be easier to see in that softened, unconscious face, curled beneath a blanket. The powerful realization that time slides by, slips through the fingers like cool, clear water from a fountain. Time races away and suddenly they are shaving and arguing ethics and philosophy. It makes me simultaneous proud and sad, a rarefied example of bittersweet.
I shall never pass this way again. The faint lyrical phrase lilts in the back of my mind. I shall never pass this way again. And, the moment cannot be grasped or anchored. The fleeting wings of a bluebird, the time flutters away. I watched my own sons this past weekend walking amongst the older cousins (and cousin-in-laws). I watched all these new men in their twenties who, just yesterday, were boys. The family photographs captured in group shots from other weddings and holidays magnified the swift passage of time. We live in a jetstream and in a blink, all are grown and all are adults. Even my baby Evie, who is but 13 but looks like a full grown man from a distance. Only when he opens his mouth does he betray his youth and innocence.
It is bittersweet for if we have done our jobs well as mothers (and fathers) our children approach adulthood well-formed and well-defined. They have identities and structure. They are people, separate from us. If we have done our jobs really well – we like the people they have become….and they like us. I got some of the best affirmation this weekend from both of my sons and their interest and desire to simply spend TIME with me, to “hang out”, to watch them play with the littler ones, creating pretend stories to entertain and delight, to be the “big boys”. They are good boys, really good boys. I watched them closely this weekend and know in my gut, in my heart that they will be very good men.