“Mommy, look, my hand is almost as big as yours!” Julius exclaimed, placing his little hand against mine.
I studied the smooth, five year-0ld fingers, stretching themselves out, trying desperately to seem bigger. I folded my fingers over, covering his. “You are so big!” I say, looking into his earnest, brown eyes. “How did that happen?”
“I don’t know.” He shrugs, and breaks free from my hold to bounce up and down. A jumble of dark curls bounce with him. “I just growed.”
“You certainly did.” I want to cry, but it’s breakfast time, not crying time. I place a bowl of mixed cereals by his place at the table, but he is still bouncing around me. I actually think the only time he stops moving is when he’s sleeping.
My seven year-old enters. Fair skinned, fair-haired and light-eyed, Michael’s expression is the only dark thing about him. He does not greet the day with a smile. “Hey, baby.” I tip-toe around his moods, but it’s hard with Julius hopping like a bunny at my feet. “Want pancakes?”
“I don’t want anything.” He scowls at me, but his eyes are so green and his face is so delicate and small, that I have a hard time not just grabbing that face and kissing him, which he would hate. “Okay, let me know when you change your mind.” I sing like Snow White, which is annoying to me, so I’m not surprised when his response is a growl.
I check the clock. Crap. My 10 year-old still isn’t down. I woke him twice already. Or, at least I thought I woke him. I race the stairs.
“Tyler. Come on, baby! Get up.” He is such a good, deep sleeper that I always just want to leave him be. Of course I don’t, but looking at his relaxed, boyish face snuggled under covers, reminds me of the baby he is, I mean, was. I hug him awake, and he responds with a sleepy grin.
“Mornin’, sunshine.” He really is sunshine. His eyes are gold. His hair is gold. He has always been a golden boy. I try to extract myself gently, but he pouts for more hugging. Finally, against my inner needy mommy, I push him off. “Let’s get moving.” I toss his clothes on top of him. “Don’t forget your socks.” I call as I head back down to the kitchen.
I am greeted by Michael demanding pancakes and Julius circling me like a puppy begging me to play Legos. Tyler slumps in, still sleepy, reaching for another hug. I give him one, along with a granola bar.
I marvel at each of my sweet babies at the table and my late grandma’s words echo in my ears, “Like the fingers on your hand, each of them different, special, yet part of the same.” These are my children. Whoever they are. Whoever they grow to be. And I will hold their hands until I have to let go.