Two days ago my son Jacob turned six. And then I cried. Birthdays are so bittersweet.
My son was super-excited about his birthday. He had been counting down the days for weeks. He told anyone who would listen that he was turning six soon – in twelve, nine, eight, six, three, two days. On his actual birthday Jacob and his big sister announced to strangers at the grocery store, at the toy store, at the park and on the street that today was his birthday. The enthusiasm was infectious. I loved how excited they were.
Still, the bittersweetness of it all overwhelmed me. Six somehow sounds much older than five. On Jacob’s birthday I was forced to acknowledge that I am no longer a mother of little kids. My kids are nine and a half and six now, solidly school age. They are growing up quickly – too quickly. Even at this moment, as I type, Jacob is reading over my shoulder. He’s making out most of the words, and happy that I’m writing about him. There’s no slowing down the train of childhood. It’s only picking up speed as it goes.
Of course, it’s an amazing journey all the same. My children are awe-inspiringly fabulous in pretty much every way. And they are so much their own people, with their own ideas and interests and quirks. Being their mother has made me much better in so many ways.
At six years old, Jacob loves superheroes and Star Wars. He likes to wrestle and crack jokes. He is reading well, and working on his printing. His favourite sport is “all of them.” He alternately adores and despises his sister. The most exciting moment of his day is when his dad comes home. And he still wakes up and crawls into my bed early most mornings. It’s not comfortable for me, but when I ask him to go back to his own bed and he says “but you are just too cozy, Mama” I can’t resist. What’s a little discomfort, in the face of such sweetness?
I guess you could say the same thing about the birthday. What’s a little bitter in the face of such sweetness? Of course I want to take every chance to let my son know how glad I am to have him in my life. And so I order the cake and the candles, stay up late putting training wheels on the bike, and force back the tears in front of him. This is about him, not about me.
Happy birthday, Jacob!