If you see me today and I am super emotional, it's because my precious baby boy is turning 6.
Sam couldn't be more excited about it, but I'm sitting over here just wondering where in the heck the last six years went.
I keep telling him, "Sammy! Stop growing up." He says, "Silly mommy!" So I say, "Just slow down a little bit." Sometimes he'll say OK and agree to be my baby forever. But more often than not he shakes his head and says how he can't wait to be a big kid. I want to tell him being a "big kid" isn't all it's cracked up to be, but instead I just smile and hug him tighter.
This feeling I have is a weird thing. I'm pulled in two directions: I want my kids to stay little forever, but I'm simultaneously excited to watch them grow up and become who they're meant to be.
Sam has the sweetest, most caring soul, and he's always worrying about other people. I call him Samwise Gamgee because, like the character from "The Lord of the Rings," my Sam is so kind and loyal and determined. I don't think there's a better nickname for him.
I'm immensely proud of the person he's growing into, and I'm thankful he's healthy and happy. That's truly all a parent could ask for. It's a privilege to be able to witness that.
But geez, why does it have to go so fast?
Every time birthdays arrive and they're about to turn another year older, I think back to all the time I wished away when they were tiny and difficult. There were so many nights we walked the entire house with a screaming Sam at 3 a.m. I'll never forget the time my husband, Kevin, got in the car at 4 a.m. and drove around for two hours just so Sam would fall asleep.
For his part, our youngest, Elliott, wouldn't sleep on his own until he was 11 months old, and he was the definition of a Velcro baby. (Heck, he hasn't grown out of that. Now he's a Velcro kid.)
I sometimes thought it would never get better. I just kept wishing for the next easier (or so I thought) stage. But let me tell you something: When both of my kids started sleeping through the night, I found myself missing their presence when I'd wake up during the early morning hours. I never thought that would happen when I was in the thick of it.
So to parents who are just starting their parenting journey, a bit of advice: I know it's difficult and that you're tired and wonder if you'll ever sleep through the night again. You will. It gets easier. So just enjoy it — even through all the difficult times. It doesn't last, and you'll realize later just how fast it went.
I'm thankful Sam still humors me and lets me cradle him like a baby and plant a million kisses all over his little face.
I can't even begin to describe here how much I love that little dude and how thankful I am he was the one who made me a mommy. I couldn't have asked for a better first child.
I love you, my little Samwise.