Our youngest, turned eight yesterday. By the afternoon of the day before, he had dragged all his bedding off his bed, to the hall, and announced he was going to try and sleep the rest of the day off, he just couldn't endure the fevered anticipation of his birthday and the few more hours he had to remain conscious, WAITING!
It kind of sums up what I have loved about him being seven, what I love about the age in general. He is so totally engaged in his immediate surroundings and yet is rapidly beginning to understand more of the wider world around of him, both how it works and what it will and does demand of him. This year he has grown up so much, gaining inches, suddenly and disconcertingly flashing ankle where only a few weeks before trouser hung. But he has grown up in so many other ways too - learning new, important skills like swimming unaided, riding a bike, joined-up handwriting, tying his own laces, making his own bed - little by little gaining the skills and confidences to be that bit more independent.
It all makes me want to both burst with pride but also ponder, with a sudden need to swallow some strange surge of loss, how fast childhood runs, helter skelter down the staircase, and out the front door, without hardly a backward glance. I feel that my role of being a mother to young children is to reassure a lot of the time, make sure they feel loved, increasing capable and confident and able to stand on their own two feet when they need to. And yet when they do all those things, the very things I have hoped they will, I feel...a tinge of loss - how wierd!
I suppose I am realising that giving them roots is the easy part, giving them wings is more complicated because when they use them, it is away from the nest and swooping off into their future. Truly I need to embrace this, celebrate and encourage their flight, because nothing is sadder than a clingy, needy mother, nothing. So this year, with children ranging from seventeen to eight years old, I look change in its bright and hopeful face, cup it in my hands, kiss it on the cheek and tell it to be kind to my kids as they run out the door. And at the same time, I pledge to myself to relish every moment of our children's time with us, savour it and build a warm blanket of memories that will protect them, and us, when the world is harsh. Possibly, no probably, I will fail, at 7.59am when we are running late for the school bus, but the will to savour is there!