Jack turned eight over President's Day weekend. I feel obligated to mourn his fleeting childhood and feel twinges of grief as he outgrows his favorite shirt before my very eyes. I could pontificate about how quickly it all goes by. I could pull myself back into those hazy, milky newborn days and gasp as I'm jolted back into reality by all of those candles on that cake.
We move forward. Life barrels at us full speed and there's not much time to look back. My family is changing, we're evolving from a family with little kids to a family with big and little kids. I'm the mom of an eight-year-old. Woah.
I've held babies and rocked babies and changed babies and burped babies for a long time. My hips find that comfortable and familiar sideways sway whenever I hold a friend's baby. I absentmindedly ruffle toddler hair and cup my hand over sharp coffee table edges as friends' babies navigate treacherous living room arrangements. These eight years have forever changed me and how I move through the world.
Jack is a real person now. He makes jokes and is trying out sarcasm. He shows me how to use our DVD player and reads this blog over my shoulder. He begs to stay up late and challenges us to Phase-10. He makes a mistake and my mom-eyes see tears of frustration well up, but in a moment he swallows them down and holds his own. He has an opinion about everything. He is perfecting his layup in our driveway. He is very much his eight-year-old self.
Sometimes I see a slight pucker in his mouth and I remember nursing him. In a way this seems awkward now, but if I close my eyes I feel myself sitting in the rocking chair, damp blond curls sticking to the inside of my arm, sweet grunts and soft humming fill my ears. Eight years isn't really that long, when you think about it.
Our weekend of skiing turned out to be a weekend of sunshine. A few quick trips into Bend for beers and coffee. No snow. No skis.
And then we all got in in our heads to climb Black Butte.
It's not the most kid-friendly hike you will ever take. There was some serious cajoling to get Sawyer up and down the mountain on this three hour voyage. Jack blazed the trail without complaint, while Clementine alternated between slowing picking her way through every rock and pine cone and hitching a ride on Brent's back.
Small, medium, and large.
(There is just something about being with my brother that lends itself to ridiculous photo opportunities. I hope my kids will appreciate each other this much when they are grown.)
(I actually paid them a dollar each to pose for this photo. Money well spent, I believe.)
We gave him a sticker/activity book for his birthday, then surprised him later that night with one more present. "But you guys already got me that sticker book!" he exclaimed. "You didn't have to get me anything else."
(Oh yes we did. Tickets to see the Portland Trailblazers- his favorite basketball team!)
We threw a simple birthday party for Jack at a park on a sunny day. He hugged each of his friends as he opened their gifts.
I want to remember those moments as well as I remember the hours spent in that rocking chair. This is Jack as an eight-year-old and this is just as awesome.
Eight candles. Eight years. Eight million more things to look forward to.