A child grows little by little, sometimes in teeny tiny steps that we don't even notice, other times in giant leaps forward that take our breath away. Sometimes we keep giant leaps at bay for as long as we can, hoping to freeze our children in a certain time. Alas, the leaps come anyway.
The Friday before Easter was one of those leaps forward. Friday morning I sold Dylan's stroller. So what? Writing it down... I sold Dylan's stroller... it looks so matter of fact, so insignificant. But to me, it was HUGE. I might have even been a bit panic stricken.
I had made plans to meet a friend and her son at the zoo that day. What was I thinking? Was Dylan ready for this? Was I ready for this? It's not like I took the stroller everywhere we went. We had gone to Target, restaurants, bookstores, and even the mall without it. I hardly used it anymore. But, it was there, just in case I needed it.
We hadn't been to the zoo since last summer, before Dylan turned three. Back then, when I let him out of the stroller, he would often take off running, or wander away when I wasn't looking. What if he did that again? I wouldn't be able to put him back in the stroller and I certainly wouldn't be able to carry his 39lb body out of the zoo!
Each time I started to panic, I heard Jim's voice in my head, saying "He can't ride in a stroller forever. He's not a baby anymore". Then, it hit me. Maybe this hesitation to sell the stroller is more than a fear of losing my child at the zoo. Maybe, in some small way, it is a fear of losing him... period. I'm losing him as a baby. I'm losing him as a toddler. That period in his life, and in mine, is already over. Maybe, just maybe, I was holding on to more than the stroller.
I didn't need to worry. He did an awesome job, walking around the entire zoo, holding my hand. When he wasn't holding my hand, he would periodically look around and make sure I was nearby. "Oh, Mommy! There you are!", he would say, smiling at me.
When we stopped at the zoo playground to let the boys run around, Dylan ran straight for the maze of tunnels that he got stuck in the last time. "That's my boy!", I thought. He made it through the maze successfully, and has been telling everyone about it since then.
As the four of us walked out of the zoo, I looked down at him, his little hand in mine, and my breath caught in my throat. Before I know it, I'll have to find the strength to let go of that hand. I'll have to find the strength to let go in countless other ways as he grows up. I just hope he'll occasionally check in, saying, "Oh Mom! There you are!" I'll smile and say, "That's my boy!"