However, there are some milestones that a mother can't see coming, and can't prepare. Next thing she knows, she feels like a mack truck ran over her heart smushing it into a million tiny little pieces and she still has to keep going on like nothing has happened.
Is my analogy a little strong?
Well, I had one of those unexpected milestones last week, and that's exactly how it felt.
Last week, we celebrated B's eighth birthday with his traditional birthday week. (Yes, every person in our family gets an entire birthday week. Yes, my future daughters-in-laws are going to hate me.)
For the past six years, B and I have a tradition of going to the Choo Choo Barn on B's actual birthday. (You can read about how that started here.)
The night before the big event, I asked Brandon, "Guess where we are going tomorrow and dad gets to go with us this year too!?!"
He replied, "uhhh, where Mom?"
What? That was odd! We've been to the Choo Choo Barn every year since he was three and suddenly he, who has an excellent memory, forgets that fact! And you know what else was odd! B hadn't even reminded me we were going all week. In fact, he hadn't said a word about the Choo Choo Barn, and he always drives me crazy reminding me about it every year.
Oblivious to his subtle hints, I told him, "C'mon crazy! Where you and I go every year together. We are going to the Choo Choo Barn!!!" (You have to say the last three words in your best Oprah voice because that's how I said it.)
Not sharing in my excitement, he looked at me and said in the same tone of voice that my parents used when they told me my cat Frisky had been eaten by the neighbor's dog, "Awww Mom. I don't like trains anymore. I've grown up."
Honk! Hooooooooonk! Splat.
B tried to let me down easy, but his words hit like a mack truck to my heart. I squeaked out, "Okay Baby...I mean Big Guy. We will think of something else to do."
With a big smile on his face, he said, "Thanks Mom," and he went back to watching tv like this monumental milestone didn't just happen.
Spontaneous tears erupted from my eyes. I just couldn't control it. Shad, who saw the whole thing, held my hand and chuckled as he said, "Poor Momma's heart."
Fortunately, B was still distracted by the tv and didn't see my whole meltdown. Even in my sadness, I was glad that he felt comfortable enough to tell me the truth, and I didn't want to make him feel bad for growing up.
Grateful for the tv distraction, I took the opportunity to slip out of the room, and started squallin' as soon as I made it to the kitchen.
If you are not familiar with southern vocabulary crying is a couple of tears, but squallin' is ugly crying.
Why did this bother me so much?
I just kept hearing his words over and over in my head, "Awww Mom. I don't like trains anymore. I've grown up."
Suddenly, I was in a spiral of sorrow that sounded a little like this...
Since when is he too grown up for anything besides drinking from a bottle and needing me to change his diaper?
As they approach manhood, boys to pull away from their moms in normal psychological development. Is this the beginning of that?
We had the best time last year. If only I had known it was our last!!!
Eight years old is only one year away from nine which is half way to eighteen.
Half way to adulthood!!!!!
When my squallin' had calmed down to a controllable sob, I decided I only had a few options to handle the situation.
I could just force him to go. It is a tradition after all! However, the only thing more miserable than not going to the Choo Choo Barn would be going with a grumpy little...I mean grown up....boy.
I could rebrand the trip. Choo Choo does sound a little babyish. The same trip to the Choo Choo Barn followed by the Petting Zoo and Candy Store with a different, more mature sound may win him over.
"Hey Brandon, do you want to go to the Model Train Agricultural Community? Afterwards, we can go observe some billy goats and get some coffee."
That plan almost worked, but I knew he wouldn't agree to the traditional "sit in the big train and act like a conductor" picture, and then we would be back to the same he's grown up problem again.
The last option was that we just didn't go to the Choo Choo Barn this year.
As much as it stung, this was really my only option.
After processing the milestone for a few days, I realized why this hurt so much. The Choo Choo Barn was my last bit of "four year old Brandon." The Brandon obsessed with tractors, trains, dirt, and the pair of rain boots that he wore every day for six months. Four year old Brandon was sweet and fun, but I had to mourn him, let him go, and move on with Brandon today.
As B grows, I don't want to be a mom that freezes in her relationship with her child. I don't want him to grow up, and our only conversations are from years past and never in the present. I want to know him as he is today. The eight year old who's still sweet and fun, but is now obsessed with books and Star Wars.
So that's just what I did. Friday, we didn't go to the Choo Choo Barn, but we took a family day and still had lots of fun.
On Saturday, we were all supposed to go to Star Wars Day at a local children's museum for Brandon's Birthday Adventure. The night before the adventure, Shad said, "Colli hates people in costumes. Why don't you just take Brandon by yourself."
This was not a man trying to weasle his way out of an activity. This was a man that knew his wife well and knew exactly what she needed, and that's one of the many reasons I love that man so.
Shad was very right. Star Wars Day with Brandon was so good for my hurt heart.
Although there wasn't a single train in sight, Star Wars Day felt an awful lot like the Choo Choo Barn.
There was still a little...I mean grown up... birthday boy obsessed with his favorite thing.
And there was still a mom that loves that grown up boy so much she loves his favorite thing too.
And that mom occasionally embarrassed that grown up boy.
Someday I'm sure B will tell me, "Awww Mom. I don't like Star Wars anymore. I've grown up," and I will probably squall all over again as that mack truck barrels straight into my heart.
Next time though, I will know that although his interests and hobbies may change as he grows, our connection and love must stay the same. That knowledge really is what got me out of the spiral of sorrow.
Wellllllll, that knowledge and one more thing....
Guess who's going to the Choo Choo Barn on his birthday this year!!!
I figure I can get four more years of trips out of him.