I’ve taken the slow lane every step of the way with my sweet baby boy. I haven’t pushed, I haven’t set expectations, and I haven’t worried about what other people were thinking or doing.
Not even for one little second.
I never once second-guessed my choice to hold him out of preschool, to give him two years instead of three. He wasn’t ready. He didn’t need it. I didn’t bother to explain myself to the people who seemed genuinely shocked by my decision.
It was my decision, after all. I am his mommy, and I know him better than anyone.
I didn’t push endless classes or enroll him in tot sport leagues. He enjoyed his gym class, he loved story time at the library, and the local music class always resulted in cheers and smiles.
But he would much rather walk up to the fire station to help the fire fighters wash the trucks on a Monday morning than attend a toddler class. He preferred long walks around town, collecting leaves and rocks while spotting trucks and cars along the way.
He enjoyed bagels at Panera and trips to the carwash. He enjoyed cool mornings at the beach and playing in the sandbox at the park.
He knew what he liked, and I let him enjoy those things. Because being little is fun, but being little is also short-lived.
So I’ve taken the slow lane in an attempt to enjoy every little bit of little along the way. And you know what? It worked.
The faint whisper of the low light under the closet door keeps us grounded as we sway back and forth, enjoying the moment of quiet before sleep sets in.
Cozy conversations ensue as we soak in this all-important moment of calm before we say our goodnights.
That other boy pushed me at school today.
What did you do? Did you ask for help?
I told him I don’t like that and the teacher talked to him.
I’m proud of you, sweet boy. I love when you use your words and say what you mean.
I can just play with my other friend instead, Mommy. I have another friend too.
Yes, you do sweet boy. You’re funny, kind, and sweet. There will always be another friend.
With a sigh, he snuggles into my chest and wraps my hair around his sweet little fingers as he settles into the calm. Back and forth we move to the sound of quiet, each holding on just a little bit longer.
I stroke my fingers through his dirty blonde hair, made darker by time, and think back to the very first days of his life. He’s always been a snuggler, this sweet boy of mine. He’s always craved comfort, closeness, and quiet time with mommy. He’s always stuck close to home and kept his lovey right by his side.
He’s always needed the extra time…
His quiet, sleepy voice brings me back to the moment, back to the rocking and cuddles.
I’m ready to go in my crib now, Mommy. I’m ready for bed.
I love you to moon and back, sweet boy, one zillion times and then some.
As I wrap him up tight and tuck him for the night he reaches out to touch my face, staring deep into my tired eyes.
I love it when you rock me, Mommy. Even when I’m big.
My mommy heart nearly explodes with love and pure emotion as I kiss his forehead one last time.
I love to rock you too, sweet boy. Even when you’re big.
But please, oh please, stay little just a little bit longer.
Katie is a Child & Adolescent Psychotherapist/Parenting Expert in Los Angeles, CA. She has a four year old daughter, three year old son, and a rock and roll husband who makes her life complete. Katie has a parenting advice blog, Practical Parenting, and can also be found on Twitter.