There’s a man in my house and I’m not sure how he got here. Before you start thinking I’m in distress, let me explain. The man is my son and I’m just not sure how he got so grown up because five minutes ago, he was a little boy. Any parent will tell you that the years spent raising children zip by at lightning speed, but that was never more apparent to me than when my son came home from the Army for the holidays. Perhaps it was the time spent apart that made the changes easier to see: the muscular frame, the way he holds himself, the way he walks with confidence, and the way he handles everything that comes his way without blinking an eye. I kept looking at him and wondering how it was possible that my little boy was now a man who wears camouflage every day.
Everyone who knows me knows I’m extremely nostalgic, but having my son home for the holiday kicked it up a notch. One afternoon I found myself camped out in our attic going through bins of long-ago arts and crafts projects, handmade Mother’s Day cards and childhood keepsakes. Raising children goes by in a haze of carpooling, housework, homework, activities, discipline and love. I wondered if I had squandered those precious days that slipped through my hands like grains of sand. But as I looked at the items spread out around me I realized that right here was my proof of the many happy memories we made and I had indeed savored every moment. These were more than just watercolor paintings, macaroni necklaces, and clay projects--these were historical artifacts . . . links to my sweet days spent rearing two wonderful children whose only flaws are growing up too quickly.
As the afternoon faded into the dinnertime hour, I repacked my precious keepsakes into their bins and headed down from the attic. I was feeling a little melancholy thinking about those days gone by, but as I walked by my son’s room and watched him happily playing his Xbox, it occurred to me that I couldn’t be sad because the little boy who filled my heart with the purest, deepest kind of love is still right here. He might not be here every day, but the love and joy that he brings to my life still is. And what a gift that is. I may never figure out what kind of magic occurred to transform my little boy into a man, but that’s okay. Some riddles aren’t meant to be solved, and besides . . . any time my now-grown son wraps me into a big bear hug and tells me he loves me, that little boy who stole my heart all those years ago comes right back to me.