It must have been June 1999. I was taking my six-week-old son to Mass.
He was our first child. All of it was new, scary and overwhelming. We had only lived in Missouri for six weeks when he was born so we had no friends and our families were five hours away. My son was born three weeks early and was just five pounds, eleven ounces. We thought he was beautiful. In reality, he looked like a chicken: just chest, pointy chin and skinny appendages.
He didn’t like sleeping. Ever. If slow eating was a race, he would win. Days and nights were a blur. I was happy and in love and terrified, and certain that I would never see a normal life again. “This is the new normal,” a friend said.
That didn’t help.
Up with him at midnight or 1 AM, I called friends who lived in Hawaii because it was still a reasonable hour there and talking to them was less lonely than being in the dark house. We got him over a mild case of jaundice only to see him start with colic. He cried and cried and I walked circles around the dining room table. We held him 24/7. We slept with him on our chests in a reclining chair.
As I was walking into church that summer day a little old man stopped me. He looked at my son, then looked at me and said,
“Enjoy him now because in three weeks he’s going to college.”
I was taken aback. How could the time go that quickly? I had been awake for six weeks. I was exhausted. Time was moving so very slowly. I could not imagine this tiny baby would ever sleep alone or I could even have him out of my sight, let alone send him to college. That was just crazy talk.
I listened, though, and that little old man was right. Eighteen years whizzed by. That little baby is now almost six feet tall, shaves, and drives a car. He is out of my sight more than in it. In three weeks, he will start college. I don’t know how that is possible because he was born just a few weeks ago. He sleeps now and feeds himself. He has opinions and desires and interests. If I tried to sleep with him on my chest I’d be smushed and it would be weird.
But gosh there are times I wish I still could do that. I miss that little baby. He gained weight and filled out and became a smiley little bundle of sweetness and cute. I wish that time would move half as fast as it does. Even though I believe that I really did enjoy and appreciate him, I wish I could have more. More time with the good and even with the not-so-great.
I have wondered if that little old man was an angel. I’ve reflected on that encounter often and shared it with every new mom I meet.
“Enjoy him now because in three weeks he is going to college.”
Without that advice I might have failed to appreciate the little moments of my son. The milestones are unforgettable, but the little moments are easily missed and those are what are the most special.
A part of my heart will break when he moves out. My head knows that my job is to raise him to leave, but my heart wants to stop time for a while and have him here a little longer. But thanks to that little old angel man, I have a heart full of little moment memories of the first boy God gave me and I know that even though the moments pass, there are many more to come and I intend to appreciate and enjoy them all.
Copyright 2017 Merridith Frediani