My children are big now. My first born graduated from high school last spring and is half way through his freshman year of college. The girls are teenagers. And the baby? The baby is 10 years old. I love 10 years old. A ten year old combines the wonder of childhood with the sophistication of one who knows there is no tooth fairy. A 10 year old is free from the awkwardness and self-consciousness that characterizes middle schoolers but still tries to be cool – sometimes. A 10 year old is big, but a 10 year old is still a child – just for a little while longer.
In fact, I can feel my 10 year old slipping away from me day by day. Oh, I don’t mean to sound too dramatic. If he’s like his older brother, he will never be too old or too cool to hug me in public or to say, “I love you too!” in front of his friends. He will let me call him Little Man even when he towers over me. And he’ll kiss me goodnight when he comes in from a date. But things are changing. He doesn’t want me to read to him anymore. He tolerates being tucked in, but rarely asks for it. He calls me Mom – not Mommy. And more often than not, I am the one to hug first and longest. He isn’t rejecting me. But he clearly does not need me like he once did. Except for today. Today he is sick.
What with all the growing up that he’s been doing, I almost forgot what that’s like. I called in sick to work today to stay with him and planned to catch up on a few things around the house. But he had other plans, other needs. He wanted me to watch Animal Planet with him. He wanted to lay his head on my shoulder in the doctor’s office. And he wanted to snuggle.
Turns out, it’s strep throat. He feels pretty miserable right now, but by this time tomorrow night the antibiotics will have kicked in, and he will be up and running again. But as with is the case with antibiotics, he has to be on them for 24 hours before he can go back to school. So I have another day. Another day not to go to work and another day not to catch up on things around the house. I have another day of Animal Planet and snuggling and of being needed. I have another day to be Mommy.
As a rule, my kids are pretty healthy. They don’t get sick that often. The next time he feels this bad, he might not want to snuggle and watch TV with me all day. Tomorrow might be our last sick day together. It might not. The truth is, I’d rather not know. I don’t remember the last time I changed a diaper or nursed a baby or peppered a fat little belly with kisses. Thank God I didn’t know at the time that it was my last time. I could not have borne it. So maybe tomorrow is our last sick day and maybe it isn’t. Either way, it’s going to be a great day!