Growing Up Is Bittersweet

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

I picked Landon up yesterday and held him in a giant bear hug. As he squeezed back I felt skinny arms and legs, bony elbows, bruised knees and taunt muscles. My eldest son is morphing out from the little years and sprouting into a new stage.

He talks incessantly about his 5th birthday (in April) which causes me to often dwell on it as well. Five is so much older than four. Five is a real kid -  not a baby or toddler anymore. While he can't wait to be five I'm sad and sentimental about it. Yet, I'm excited too. Watching your children grow is such a bittersweet experience.

I really notice the perks of his unavoidable growth this weekend. We went hiking with friends and he easily charged up the mountain. He didn't whine or complain; instead he relished the challenge and pushed himself through the tough spots - enjoying the pride of accomplishment at the end.  RJ and I found him to be a delightful hiking companion.

Also, later that day RJ and I had to load out big box bike into the van. It's not an easy task and requires five full minutes of careful attention, so we put Landon in charge of Parker. After we settled them in a safe spot we instructed Landon to watch Parker carefully. Landon did a great job keeping a close eye on his brother - even herding him back to their zone when P tried to walk away. As he grows it's exciting to watch his sense of responsibility develop.

More difficult to watch is the influx of emotions that comes with age. That same day we stumbled upon a drum circle down near the Santa Barbara beach. Parker who doesn't yet struggle with feelings of embarrassment or self-doubt - the beauty of being a young toddler (I do realize some toddlers are shy but I feel that is different) - marched right into the circle and started to dance. Landon, however, has started experiencing those emotions. I could tell he wanted to join the circle but he wouldn't until coaxed (a year ago he would have bounced right in). He felt self-doubt and nervousness.

We also had a very emotional morning a few weeks ago. At first I couldn't figure out why he was so upset but eventually, after sitting down and getting him to open up, discovered he was worried the kids at school were going to laugh at the picture he had drawn. My heart broke in a million pieces. I hate that he would feel that way already; but I also know it's unavoidable.

Which is why I'm finding that is some ways parenting gets easier. Landon has better self-control now than as a toddler, he's a great conversationalist, he sleeps well, he's fun to do things with, helpful around the house, etc. But on the flip side raising him is also getting harder. Dealing with hurt feelings, self-doubt, comparisons, envy, anger, injustice...these are big emotions are much more difficult to navigate.

I miss Landon's chunky cheeks and dimpled baby hands, yet I love his wide-mouthed grin, freckled nose and skateboard scraped knees. Thank goodness I have 500 billion photos of him so on those days his growing up is bitter I can go back and relive the little years. But, as we sit down to chat about his day or I listen to him play with a friend or help his brother shoot a basket I'm finding that it's okay my baby is growing up - because he really is so very, very sweet.

1 comment:

Jessica G. said...

Beautiful picture. And I can't agree with you more about the bittersweet experience of watching our babies grow up. On the one hand, I love the interaction I have with Connor and know it will continue to grow. But, I also realize as he gets older, he will no longer want his mama to comfort him when he gets hurt, to lay with him at bedtime, to hold his hand when he is nervous.

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