I know it’s way too early, but I find myself already feeling afraid of River’s growing up. I know it will happen, I know it’s inevitable, I know it’s best for him, for my descendents, for society, perhaps for me.
I think how he’ll have no memory of this time. Some of the most meaningful and special months of my life, during which we have a close and loving intimacy, will disappear into his oblivion.
I hear with some frequency women looking at River and telling me to enjoy the time.
“My baby is 6 foot 1,” one said.
“And mine 6’3,” her friend said.
“My baby is 19,” a real estate agent told me last weekend. “It happens in the blink of an eye.”
I know they are right and I do want to treasure this time. But treasure as I might, I can’t hold it still. I can’t enjoy it any longer than the time itself.
Yesterday I watched college students, probably on the men’s track team, running down the street. They wore shorts and ran bare-chested. Looking at their rippling muscles, their long and lean strengths, I thought back to the women who bore them, who nursed them, who fed them twenty or so years ago.
There is a group of women out there who will always see these strong young men as their babies. They will remember the sight of the boys’ naked little butts on the changing table. They’ll recall the feeling of small arms around their neck and slobbery kisses. When they offer their sons hugs or refer to them as their babies, their son’s probably say, “Oh mom,” and then look for escape.
Looking at them, I saw my future and River’s future. I’ll be happy for him to be strong and healthy and athletic. I want him to grow up into a confident, independent person. But I also want to hold this time near. And I mourn the fact that we’ll never be able to recall it together.