photos by the incredibly talented Janea Smith Photography
Every year once December rolls around, I find myself unintentionally reflecting on the past eleven months and all of the adventures that have come along with them. I can't help but think about each little moment that has pieced together this beautiful, though ever-imperfect, puzzle of our lives. The days often drag but the years...the years truly fly by. And I never want to forget the memories that make this life so wonderful. Sometimes it's not just one specific instance that stands out in my mind during these reflections, but a make-up of occurrences that come together to reveal a bigger picture. It's as if God knows my mind is going to take a little while to catch up and the response will be all the more special when it finally does.
As a mom, I rarely ever get to use the bathroom in peace (shifting gears a little here, bear with me). Even if Bear is playing upstairs, seemingly light-years away from the master bathroom, he knows when I walk into that room. No matter how quietly I tiptoe, or how silently I slip the door shut, my little man inevitably comes barging in the bathroom with me every single time. I'll admit, I get annoyed. I say things I never thought I'd say, like, "Please don't sit on my lap while I pee pee" and, "Can you pass me the toilet paper please, sweet boy?". Our master bathroom is a good size but the "loo" itself, if you will, is very small. No room for additional standers-by or crazy toddlers. But Bear pays no mind- he's just happy to be in the same tiny space as Mommy.
He's done this since he could walk, and I know I should've stopped it a long time ago (and believe me, I will before it gets too weird in a few years). But it's a part of our day and as much as it drives me nuts, I secretly love that he wants to stay by my side. When Bear first started walking at 10 1/2 months, he'd toddle his way in and want to play with the light switch (because what else is there to do in a space that small?). He couldn't reach the switch, so I'd hold him up and let him flicker it on and off a few times before setting him back down with a big, chubby-cheeked grin. This became our thing- he'd come running in the bathroom and want to turn on the light for me. Such a gentleman! Minus the whole invading my private space bit. As the months and years went on, he never stopped wanting to turn on the light for Mommy, and I found joy in picking up my hefty little guy to do me the luminary honors.
One afternoon a couple weeks ago, Bear sensed that I was headed to pee and decided to accompany me. When we got in the bathroom, I accidentally dropped my phone and bent over to pick it up. When I arose, I was surprised to find Bear on his tip-toes, reaching for the light switch by himself. He didn't ask Mommy for help, like all those times before. He no longer needed my assistance. He reached as high as he could, with the cutest little "the struggle is real" look upon his face, until he knocked the switch up and light came flooding into the room. He then turned to me with the biggest grin and said, "I turned the light on for your Mommy, all by myself!" and I felt a wave of pride come over me in that moment. Following that pride came a ping of sadness at the direct realization that my baby is growing up before my eyes. All those months, I had failed to see just how close he was coming to doing that task all on his own. He was preparing for it- knowing one day he would help Mommy with the light without any assistance. I'm sure I knew deep down that I wouldn't still be picking my son up at age 18 to turn on a light...but the time came too soon. I guess you could say I was "blinded by the light" (too cheesy?) and not at all ready for my little boy to become so independent.
I think back on those early days, when Bear was just 10 months old, and the years following just jumble together. It's been the best 4 years of my life, hands down, and I wouldn't change one minute of it. Zach and I make mistakes as parents, and as people in general, but one thing is for sure: we love our son with everything we have. I'm sure Zach has his own "light switch" moments to look back on and realize just how much our little boy has grown, and I will never forget the first time Bear reached up and turned on the light for his Mommy. All on his own. No matter how crazy and hectic and unpredictable this life can be, we've got each other. And the love of family, along with some sweet little paws on the light switch, will see us through.