I can feel him shrinking away from me. At the school gate in the morning, checking who is close by. Maybe its the memories of the bully who shamed him last year, leaving remnants of not enoughness. Also I think it maybe because he now reaches for the computer game controller rather than his beloved soft toys.
But I can feel this shift and transition, in the space in between.
They told me this would happen, that my little boy who was once my second shadow has now become my sometimes friend.
Even though I knew this would come there are moments like when he runs out of the classroom at the end of a big day, so fast that he bowls me over. It is in these moments that I hold on a little longer than I am supposed to, especially at the school gate. Finding ten seconds to spare and my heart beating slower as I remember what it was like to be his only friend.
I can feel familiarity settling in, like a pair of worn in shoes. I hear his chewing louder than ever before on the couch late at night after the children have been tucked into bed.
This April we mark eight years married and nearly ten years standing alongside. I can feel familiarity settling in like a favourite winter coat but I need to be careful that it doesn’t turn into complacency. I want to remain present to our feelings of gratitude and remain present in the midst of the familiarity that walks alongside.
So even though I’m tired and had enough of giving at ten past eight. When he walks in the door, I try to get off the couch and hold him ten seconds longer, even though my bones ache and I feel so ever tired. I hold him just that little longer reminding him that home is safe from the war he’s walked away from outside.
I can feel her confidence bouncing from the room that is away from mine Every, single time she walks away from me, not even turning back to check in and say goodbye. I can see her mind ticking over and seeking affirmation amongst the day. Looking across crowded rooms and wondering where she belongs and looking for the fun.
There are moments that I have noticed however that defy her four years of living. Those moments unravel when she stands in front of our hallway mirror looking deeply at the reflection staring back at her.
I remember the time I stood trying not to betray her trust with my shock when she whispered that this outfit made her look fat. Or the time that she told me she wants to brush her hair one hundred more times so it looks flat.
She didn’t pick these words up from our house or see me looking at my reflection in this way. She found out these untruths out there and somedays I am not sure how to answer her questions about the world and its cruel ways.
So I hold her just a little longer. Sometimes demanding that she comes and sits alongside. At nighttime or when she feels sick, I try to drop everything I am carrying to give her ten seconds to spare, focusing on the moment that slips away so quickly. Through my fingers, heart and life, she is growing quicker than my heart can realise.
She’s not great a long hugs like her brother. She’s more confident than that. But somedays I catch her out, I come alongside. I pick her up and twirl around, making her believe she can fly.
Ten second hugs are my intention for my family and all I meet this year. Because we all need a little extra.
Have you got a hug,
or ten to spare?