Good night, Whit

Last night, as I tucked Whit in, the room was heavy with nostalgia. It was dim, his favorite lullabye was playing, and I curled into his bottom bunk, breathing him in as he lay with his back to me. One week from today he turns five, and this awareness is stitched through every moment of every day lately. I can barely bear it. I kept my eyes closed as I felt him turn his head to look at me, and I heard his low giggle, presumably at the unusual delight of seeing me “sleeping” in his bed. The nearness of him, the just-bathed little boy smell, the familiar lullabye music, the nearness of his birthday all swelled into a huge wave of nostalgia and sadness and, predictably, I found myself blinking back tears.

I thought about how recently I wrote about how his “babyhood clings to him” and how that is just not true anymore. I thought about the moment he was born, a moment as clear and crystalline as any I have ever experienced, I thought of the million times he has driven me to yell at him and the million and one times he has made me cry with sweetness. I turned to sit up and felt his hand reach back and grab for me. “Don’t go, Mummy,” he murmured, so I stayed put for another song. Peculiarly, I remembered those last days of pregnancy, when the baby feels so tight in your drum-hard belly that you feel it every movement with an exquisite, painful awareness. My emotion felt that big inside me, almost as though I could not contain it with my physical body.

Finally I forced myself to open my eyes and sit up, and I leaned over Whit, studying his face. My gaze moved slowly down his face, his features unfurling again to me as if brand new: his eyes, so blue even in the darkness, his long eyelashes, his pale skin, and his defined cleft chin, one of the very few tangible things he has inherited from me. He reached up a hand and clasped me behind the neck, smiling, with what struck me as a curious, surprising awareness of the moment. I smiled back at him, “I love you, my little man.” Tears ran down my face and I saw puzzlement wash into his eyes. I smiled again, trying to reassure him that nothing is wrong, and felt relieved when his face softened. “I love you too, Mummy.” He pulled my face down so it was right next to his. I felt his soft cheek against my wet one, and turned to give him a kiss. He clasped his hands behind my neck, holding me to him. “I love you as much as the sky,” I heard him whisper.

Oh, my baby boy. Five years old. There is so much tenderness I am not sure I can stand it.


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16 Comments

  1. Posted January 13, 2010 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    Oh my! Tears run down my face now. These words are beautiful.

  2. Becca
    Posted January 13, 2010 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    You made me cry. Because I am right with you, STILL crying over Hannah’s turning five. It’s the first year I’ve cried. I am just so sad about it. I feel like I’m grasping onto the last threads of baby I see in her. I want that babiness to stay. Sigh.
    I hear you lindsey and I empathize. I’m right there with you!

  3. Posted January 13, 2010 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    Raw words. Rich words. Universal words. How are we to begin to come to terms with the passage of time, with the sweetness of maturing souls, with the cruel and wonderful birthdays that remind us like clockwork of change and mortality and age?

    This is a beautiful musing. One that I imagine you – and little Whit – will come back to time and time again.

  4. Posted January 13, 2010 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    My son will be 5 this year and I know exactly how you feel! Where does the time go??? BTW, I tagged you and linked you at Theta Mom chickie! Be sure to come by and check it out! ;)

  5. Posted January 13, 2010 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    Awww, jeez. You’ve got me all snotty and lump-throated over here.

    So bittersweet, watching them grow.

  6. Posted January 13, 2010 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    oh my. this filled my heart. you taught your precious whit to express those tender words that will forever be etched in your memory. well done mama.

  7. Posted January 13, 2010 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    This is really beautiful. Ben is 4, and I am really enjoying this stage of his: not quite a baby, but still truly a little boy…not quite really school-age. Beautiful post. Will snuggle a little extra with Ben tonight…

  8. Posted January 13, 2010 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    I look at my biggest boy, once the only boy, and I can’t remember how he’s gotten so big. There is no “baby” left in his face, nor his body. He is slim, sleek, muscular and naturally toned. He is boy. All boy. Too big.

    I look at pictures of his infancy, his toddler years, his pre-school years and wonder where it went. Him. Time. Life when he was young. Vanished. Evaporated. Sometimes it feels as if it never existed. But then I know, when I feel the emotion as large as a nine-month fetus in a rock-hard belly, that it was real and I did cherish all of it. Every minute. Even though it’s past now.

    Sigh. I hear you. My baby is still a baby but I already dread the day you are writing about. The day I know it’s turned to something else. Baby to boy. Boy to man. Sigh.

  9. Posted January 13, 2010 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    What a sweet post… I have a hard time with Fynn being three, I can’t even imagine 5! And then the fact that Paige will one day be 5? I cannot even fathom it :)
    Thank you for the honest sweet words.

  10. Posted January 13, 2010 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    I have just started to feel the baby leaving Big Boy and the child taking his place. And as much as I enjoy our conversations and our dates, I feel like an ache his growing up and growing away – just as you have so beautifully captured here.

  11. Posted January 13, 2010 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

    Got me crying… in a good way, just like you.

  12. Posted January 14, 2010 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Well this was just beautiful. Maybe I liked it so much because I could imagine all of that for myself and my baby boys. One of them turns 8 in a matter of days. Eight. It’s hard to believe.

  13. Posted February 9, 2010 at 2:35 am | Permalink

    … I love you right up to the moon… and back!

    Oh how I know this ride… my son just turned 6 and I find each day a new birth and death… things change and I know the change will speed up, become more drastic. There are already signs of separation, of all sorts of independence.

    And yet he’s still my little boy, he still crawls in bed with me and cuddles… only the times are less and the moments ever more cherished.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Shawn

  14. Posted April 21, 2010 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

    I did not know you back then, when you wrote this. I am so very glad I’ve found it now. Exquisitely beautiful. I just love this.

  15. Robert
    Posted May 17, 2012 at 5:48 am | Permalink

    A beautiful piece of writing and an expression of love for your 5 year old Whit, Lindsey. I didn’t actually cry, I think it was just a small dust particle in my eye, but it brings about a sense of nostalgia for when I was 5 years old. My mum always provided a sense of secuirty and comfort, something I have not experienced in a very long time. So thank you Lindsey for those beatiful words.

  16. Posted April 11, 2013 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Just clicked over here from your “The Physicality of Them” post. It didn’t take long for the tears to spring forth, mostly because I spend a lot of time wishing to speed up my boys’ toddlerhoods. I want so bad to get to the point where they’re not dependent on me for every little thing. And then I read something like this and I’m reminded not to rush it. To be here now. I go through moments like this one every year on the days preceding my daughter’s birthday. Does it ever get easier? It’s such a joy to watch them become the people they’re meant to be but it’s just so bittersweet sometimes, like you, I can barely contain my emotions within my body. Thank you for linking back to this post. x

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  1. By Today « Drama For Mama on January 13, 2010 at 8:22 pm

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    This post was mentioned on Twitter by lemead: A love letter to my baby. My boy: http://bit.ly/4rHK8j

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