He’s pulling loose baby teeth out of his head with his own hands. The tooth fairy seems a mere afterthought, though the potential cash is still appealing. He points to his pillow, looks me directly in the eye, smiles and says, “I’m going to put my tooth right here, Mom.”
It’s June and Jeb’s wrapped up fourth grade. Summer’s on. I’d say he’s changed, but that would imply something that is static and complete. No, this here thing we’re doing has just begun, I suspect, and it’s all forward motion. Jeb is changing.
He and a friend fish down at the pond on their own. They ride bikes to the general store, no adult. Jeb’s doing back flips into the swimming pool, “Hey, Mom, watch this!” And I’ll nod approval (inwardly cringing) trying to sound nonchalant as I offer the reminder to push “waaay off” from the edge (already done without my prompting, but hey, I’m a Mom, this is what I do). Or is it?
Jeb’s had a decade of life lessons and my doting eyes. Seems he’s getting the hang of this Planet Earth deal. The foundation has been laid. The basics set in place. My Momness needs to take new form.
As his sphere broadens, I’m being asked to hang back (just a little). He’s learning from the world now, finding his place within it. Exploring beyond the bounds of the familiar lap of the Mother. This is a good thing. This has been the point of these last ten years of training.
Anything can happen. A Mother’s mind knows all this. So it’s a delicate balance. I’m being asked to grow up, too.
Let go, but still watch. Step to the side, but stay just close enough. Know when it’s okay to let him crash and burn (just not too hard).
I realize that this is the first time at this for both of us. It’s all one big experiment, as we navigate through this mother-child process. Ten years ago, we were one body, birthed to two. Over the years, we have been slowly, morphing, growing and stretching into our own individual spaces. One day, we will have separated to the point of no longer even sleeping in the same house.
We’ve got some time for that one, yet. For now, I’m still digesting the fact that Jeb’s feet are bigger than mine. Savoring that he still wants to hug and kiss me. Though yesterday I noticed when he sidled up beside me, we were nearly face to face. His kiss to my cheek, no tip-toes necessary. His voice so matter-of-fact. Mature.
“I love you, Mom.”