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Mary Cassatt is the best artist to capture motherhood.

Mary Cassatt is the best artist to capture motherhood.

The exchange went something like this:

“Come here, baby, and let me help you with your shoes.”

“I’m not a baby.  I’m Jack.”

I watch him struggle to put on his socks and shoes.  For the first time, Jack doesn’t need my help.  He succeeds in putting on his own clothes. This is a real milestone.

He knows it.  I know it.

A lump forms in my throat.

I say, “You’ll always be my baby.”

He says, “Mommy, don’t call me that.”

I say, “O.K.”

I take him to school.  I realize that next year I will be sending my third (and youngest) son off to a Mother’s Day Out program two days a week.  He turns two years old next month.  The “terrible two’s”  have arrived a bit early.  George is saying “MINE!”  George likes to say “No!”  He is no longer a baby.  He is a toddler.  He still likes to put both of his little chubby hands on each of my cheeks and say, “Mommy,”  then we rub noses.  I know all too well…this, too, will soon stop.

By the third child, you see all of the tell tell signs of diminishing babyhood.  The dwindling of baby fat…and the loss of that precious fatty crease between the wrist and hand are seen.  Their vocabulary expands by leaps and bounds.  They stop (or start, as in the case with my youngest) playing with Thomas the Train.  Their interests mature. They may not want to be affectionate in the same ways or need you to pick them up….or help to dress or do a litany of things.

My oldest son is already at that age, at five (soon to be six) where he doesn’t want me to kiss him in front of his friends.  I respect that and we now are “cool” and do our own secret handshake…which is really a fist bump followed by an “explosion sound” and open hand.  We then say to each other, “You’re the bomb.”  He likes it.  It is fun.  It belongs to us.  He also likes it when I recite this poem:

When I was one
I had just begun
When I was two
I was nearly new
When I was three
I was hardly me
When I was four
I was not much more
When I was five
I was just alive
But now I am six,
I’m as clever as clever;
so I think I’ll be six now
forever and ever.

– Now We are Six by A.A. Milne, creator of Winne the Pooh

Sometimes I wish he’d stay six forever and ever.

I am rather nostalgic as of late because I realize that my sons are growing up.  It’s just that I feel like time is speeding by.  Don’t they realize how much I treasure every single moment with them?  I don’t think they do and I think that is perfectly fine.  They are busy with “growing up.”  All three of them are involved in what it takes to develop and move on.  I never want to “clip their wings.”  Plus, I’m enjoying the whole ride through their childhood…each and every moment.

I love looking at the artwork of Mary Cassatt.  To me, Cassatt captures the essence of motherhood.  I like every piece of her work.  It conjures up all of these feelings.  I’ve been thinking about buying a print of hers because I reminds me of this time in my sons’ lives.   I truly thank God for allowing me to have them.

So, when my sons tell me, “I’m not a baby.”  I know that deep in my heart…they’ll always be my baby.

No matter how old they get.

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