My eldest turns 12 this week. A dozen years since I became a mother, and each year with its own delicate treasure, a hidden bit of gold. Since we’re near Lunar New Year, the banners and posters in my neighbourhood are celebrating the Year of the Horse: I remember coming home with my baby and seeing similar posters. So amid the birthday plans, and marveling at a child now taller than I am, I am considering what 12 years has taught me.
I remember holding my newborn baby and wishing I could capture the moment and return to it whenever I wished – and later that night crying with the same baby who I could not settle to sleep. I also remember trying to calm a screaming toddler down enough to get us home (with groceries, on the bus) and wishing that this stage would be over – and then later that week laughing with him as we used glitter and paint and coffee filters to make bunches of paper flowers for spring. Each moment with my kids has challenged and stretched me as a person; sometimes by taking my breath away with vulnerable, all encompassing love, and sometimes by making me feel my own inner tantrum rising so that I want to throw myself on the ground and howl.
This week, I’m conscious that my role in my son’s life is changing. I’m figuring out where to let go, where to support him without interference, where to allow him to explore. I was worried that I’d get to this place and just mourn for the days when he was small, but I find that those infant and toddler years are living inside me. I’ve been changed by that little boy in arms; these days, I’m working what I learned of my heart through the rest of my life. I’m more brave, more open, more human, more flawed than I ever imagined before I had kids.