I can’t stop looking at you these days. At five years old I finally see what people have been telling me since you were born: that it goes so fast, that I must cherish every moment. Instead of lamenting all the moments I was too tired, overwhelmed or impatient to cherish, I’m doing my best to capture them now, to imprint your unbearable sweetness on my heart. The way your long eyelashes filter light, your cheeks and your belly still plump with the last traces of babyhood, no longer evident in any other part of you.
You still frolic in the morning, something between a martial art and improvisational dance, like you did at 2 or 3 but now those limbs are gangly, impossibly long, jutting out of pajama shorts that cinch too tightly. I can see you making these same moves with a skateboard or a dirtbike years from now.
I love how you shake your hands like you’re flinging off water when you talk–you inherited that tendency from me, I think–and cross your feet over each other when you’re sitting at rest. And those feet, once I could cup them in my hands and now they sound like a grown person stomping down the hall.
I love how everything becomes a song, a play, a dialogue between two characters in your mind projected onto your action figures and stuffed animals. I love that you sleep with a stuffed “lion cub” you named FireStar tightly pressed between your neck and shoulder.
Someday you will not want to curl yourself against me with the order to “cuddle me, Mama!” and so I do, every time you ask, breathing into the back of your neck, the singular smell of you not so very different from when you were born, but tinged with the sweat of hard play and the ozone waft of air.
I know these specifics will fade into the ways that you change, just as I can barely hold the memory of your tiny weight against my breast as a baby, or your pre-verbal babble.
I know you are already on your way away toward your own life, but for now, I’m holding on a little more tightly than I should, because I still can.