I closed my eyes for a brief moment, utterly exhausted from a hectic day at work and my usual chores at home. To be honest, I did not want to do much except sit in silence for a moment in my recliner. I chose to be still, completely still.
And then I felt a light tap on my knee and opened my eyes to see our youngest son Jase in front of me.
“Can I sit in your lap,” he asked, tugging at a plastic superhero toy.
For a brief second, I almost declined. I wanted to tell him that I was tired and just wanted a moment to myself. But I didn’t…
Opening my arms, I let my tiny six-year-old climb in my lap as we watched a cartoon on the television. That was all he wanted. He didn’t want a snack. He didn’t even bring his toy with him, instead leaving it on the floor. He simply wanted to sit in his mother’s lap.
Moments later, our oldest son James came into the living room to see what we were watching on television. Sitting on the floor next to my recliner, he joined us.
I hugged Jase a little tighter and leaned over to rub James on his back. It then occurred to me that I will never be able to hold James in my lap again.
Anyone who has seen James will tell you that even though he is 12-years-old, he is the same height as me. And I don’t think he is going to stop growing any time soon. He picked that up from me in his genes, to be this tall and lanky figure.
But I can remember when he was a tiny little thing. My firstborn son that I would hold all through the night. My little son who I would sing to sleep. My boy who I would carry around on my hip. And my son who would run into my arms whenever he was happy, sad or hurt.
And now all I can do is hug him. There are no more lap songs. When he gets hurt, he looks into my eyes but no longer reaches for a hug. He is growing up, and it is happening too fast.
It is so easy as parents to think that these days will last forever. We even sometimes hope that our kids will get a little older so that perhaps they can gain some responsibility. I am guilty of that, and I curse myself for thinking it.
Recently, I have caught myself picking up my baby son Jase when he extends his arms up to me. I scoop him up in my lap, regardless of how tired I am. I sing to him when he is hurt. And I hug him when he is laughing or crying.
Because these days will pass, and then I won’t have a baby anymore.
That night, James returned to the living room to tell me that he was going to bed. We told each other that we loved each other. And then he leaned down in my chair to hug me goodnight.
His once tiny arms seemed larger as he held me tight. And I felt his heart beating as I rubbed his back.
Normally he gives a quick hug before moving on. But for some reason, that night, he held on a little longer and tighter. And I let him.
James will grow up to be taller than me. His small frame will develop into muscles. His voice will get deeper. And his life will go on.
But he is still my boy, my son. And every chance I get, I will hold on a little tighter and listen to his heartbeat because he heard my heartbeat first.