This morning I felt dead.
There was no amount of caffeine to get me going. My energy had apparently packed its energetic little bags and went on vacation.
The boys went back and forth from playing to fighting to playing again. I bounced back and forth from referee to robotic caretaker. Make breakfasts. Make lunches. Oh, I also need breakfast… But coffee first.
Even the animals were high maintenance. The cat wanted out, then back in, then out. Then bumped against my ankles and meowed for who knows what. I petted her. She seemed satisfied. The dog turned his nose up at his food, then pouted because his doggie bed was rumpled.
Dropping the oldest son off at school, we held good conversation about the week so far, what this afternoon will look like, what he looked forward to today, what he was proud of.
On the way home, I yawed a dozen times. It was time to play with the youngest son before he reported to preschool.
We played Pop the Pig (a super cute game that everyone with kids should own!) and two games of checkers. I ignored the dirty dishes in the sink and played along with Caleb’s request to get dressed for school “all by myself”.
And he did.
He ran out of his room, arms outstretched, and a grin of pride spread across his face. Nothing was inside out. Nothing was backward. His shoes were on the right feet.
I let out a cheer, and applauded him. He raced to the bathroom and brushed his teeth, making me stay outside the door. He even wet and combed his hair before asking me to help with the stubborn cowlick in the back.
“I’m a big boy like Wesley now!” he said, shrugging into his backpack instead of whining and asking me to carry it for him. On the way to school, we called Daddy on speaker phone so that he could tell him all about being a big boy. Daddy laughed and said he was proud.
From the rearview, Caleb beamed.
As we turned into the long drive that leads to his school, we kept to routine. I twisted my arm back and unbuckled him, and he climbed into the front seat. He rolled the window down and stuck his head out.
I couldn’t hold back the yawn.
Caleb suddenly shouted, “Woo Hoo! I’m a big boy now! This is the best! Day! Ever!”
Then I awoke.
I saw everything at once. The brown of his hair, the shimmer of red tones in just the right angle of sunlight, the way the strands blew back in the wind.
His blast of enthusiasm hit me like a wave and lit up every cell within me with color and life.
He turned to me. “Look mom! My mouth is all dry! The air dried it out!”
I laughed. And laughed.
And wanted to cry.
We’ve turned a corner. My children are no longer small. The growth rate of these little guys astounds me. And it’s only getting faster.
I noticed how long his legs had gotten. And how small his t-shirt seemed to be. It was fairly new. It would have to be donated soon.
We parked at the curb where the teachers met him at the door.
“Guess what?” He said to the teacher. “I’m a big boy now! I put my shirt on by myself. I put my shorts on by myself. I put my socks on by myself, one at a time…”
As she led him away, listening attentively, he continued to describe his morning.
His backpack, which seemed far too big for him a month ago, was fitting perfectly.
“Slow down,” I whispered as I drove away, wiping away tears and unable to hide my smile of pride. “Please, just slow down.”