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10 things I will miss about you (or already do)

Birthday number 11 is in the books, and it's is really just starting to sink in how much time has gone by, and how little time there is left (hopefully) with my little one here at home. Parenting is a hard job. And I don't mean hard as in back breaking. Sure, it is that sometimes, too—The diapers, the sleepless nights, the endless preparation of meals and washing of laundry—but in the end, it's not those things that are hard. No, parenting is hard because if you're doing it right, what you're really doing is spending about eighteen years of your life making yourself dispensable.

When Calvin was little, just a tiny infant I wanted to lose my entire day in, my parents both imparted to me a wisdom that I have held close ever since: from the very first moment, parenting is about letting go. Letting go so they can take their first steps, letting go when you drop them off at their first class or for a first play date, letting go when they take the car out the first time, then when they go to college, and all the little moments between. And each time you let go a little more the space between your heart and theirs lengthens just a little more, pulling first uncomfortably taut, and then, hopefully, slackening again to a comfortable normal. And if you've done it right, in the end neither of you will need those strings at all to exist in a comfortable orbit. 

But the growing up and the letting go happen so gradually most of the time that it's easy to not notice the little changes, and there are many lasts that have already passed us by without my noticing or documenting them. That's life. It can't all be documented any more than it can be stopped or held onto. In the end we're left with memories, and sometimes not even those, but the ones we keep close help us through the letting go and the moving on.

(1) The way you said "squirlul" and "elephlant" until you were three or four.

(2) The crazy face. It was a really crazy face.  

(3) The way you cuddled when we read together. We still read together, but you're past cuddling now.

(4) You singing along with me when I sang you songs like "Leaving on a Jetplane" or "You are my Sunshine" before bed at night.

(5) The weight of your body curled against mine when I carried you. The last time I did this was five years ago. You'd fallen asleep in the car on the way home from somewhere, and you were already too heavy for me, but I knew it was a last chance and I took it.

(6) Your tiny voice. It's growing bigger ever year.

(7) The way you blow me kisses when I drop you off somewhere, not once, but several times, as you walk away from the car to whatever activity awaits.

(8) Our prolonged goodnight exchanges between floors. It started with the simple "goodnight, I love you", repeated by us both, but grew to include air kisses and a variety of other phrases called out after I was already downstairs from putting you to bed. It might be a stalling tactic, but then again, it might just be sweet.

(9) The way you carry(ied) your blanket everywhere. Literally everywhere a number of years ago, now just everywhere in the house.

(10) The way you read: in just about every position (rightside up, upside down, sideways, on the floor, on top of the couch...) but not any one of them for long.