Tuesday, January 24, 2012

It seems before each of the boys' birthdays, I always go through some sort of organizing frenzy.  I tell myself it's because I'm clearing out space for some of the new toys they will be getting as gifts, but really, I think tidying up is one thing I can do where I'm in full control, whereas I have no control over how fast those little boys grow.  De-cluttering distracts me from thinking that with each passing day, they are one day closer to moving out and away from me.

I was cleaning out some cabinets earlier this week and came across a pair of shoes that I had received as a gift for Eli when I was pregnant with him.  They were a pair of blue suede Stride Rite baby shoes and were so adorable, that as he grew out of them, I continued to purchase the exact same pair (just in a larger size).  Once he turned about a year, Ethan, Eli and I headed off to Stride Rite once again to buy his next pair, the third pair or maybe even the fourth by this time.

When we walked in, I simply showed the salesperson the shoe that Eli had on and said, "I'd like the same pair but a size larger". She redirected me from the "baby" shoes over to the "pre-walker" shoes and said, "I'm sorry, you have the largest size we make in that style, but you can choose something else."

Ethan was standing next to me, while Eli was likely either in his stroller or strapped to my chest but I remember quickly turning away from Ethan and swatting tears away.  This news struck me as a great injustice.  How DARE the salesperson point out to me that I no longer (and would never again) have an infant!?  I felt sad, inane and ridiculous and for one crazy moment, I thought about leaving in a huff.  When I turned and looked at Ethan, I saw that he also had tears in his eyes.

"Why are YOU crying!?", I remember asking him through my own tears half laughing, half sniffling.

"Well...I'm just sad.  Because Eli's not going to seem like Eli anymore without his shoes!"  And with that statement, Ethan's tears spilled over and he was sobbing.  Quite simply (and eloquently), he summed up the way I was feeling.  It's the way I always feel when either of my boys cross over that very fine, invisible line of growing from one stage into the next.

The line is ever so fine, barely there, and when they start crossing over it, they begin with a light step, a slight tip-toe but yet seem to land on the other side with a clanging, jarring thud that I suppose I will never grow accustomed to.  It's a grand and loud announcement of "I'm growing up!  I'm one step closer to leaving the nest!"  I am caught off guard every single time I'm greeted with one of these new stages, however insignificant it may be (new shoes, the move from a crib into a bed, a lost tooth).   I'm never prepared for these moments and yet they don't (and won't) stop.

I assume the trick is to enjoy the moment (which I have to admit, I'm not all that great at doing).  In the meantime, I'm going to hang onto those little shoes for dear life.  They remind me of my sweet, sensitive boys.  And of the Stride Rite lady who looked at the three of us and was probably wishing she'd applied for a job at the Barnes and Noble across the street instead.


Cheryl said...

Oh Jen, I was thinking about this growing thing the boys are doing over the last couple of days. I'm sure it's because Eli is turning four, and I don't know how that day he was born, which seems like last week, was four years ago! This baby / little boy time is flying by too fast. I got to thinking that the days of cuddling and lap sitting, and picking him up as he comes running to me are almost over. It makes me sad to think about it, the things we do, wrapping him in a towel after his bath, picking him up with a hug and kiss and tossing him in my bed to dry off, the extra five minutes of cuddling and kisses before bed, are almost done! I did the same with Ethan, but now he hides from me when coming out of the bath or shower. I can't even pick him up if he wanted me too! If we only knew the last time we would do something, not because something bad is going to happen, but because they are growing, we would hold on a little tighter, hug a little longer, and add a few more kisses to those rosy cheeks. There are more and different wonderful moments to come, believe me I know this, but these moments I will cherish in my mind and heart always! (and this is what those little old ladies mean when they say cherish these days!)

Shawn Dudukovich said...

Jen - get those shoes bronzed! On my bookshelf I have one of each of my mom's, mine and my sisters baby shoes (my sister has the other of each pair) - and both Max and Morgan's first pairs. I also have max's first levis jacket and Morgan's first denim dress bronzed and hanging in the hallway. great reminders of the 'good old days!"