It's the end of an era. The era of single digits. Tonight, at precisely 9:02 and 9:03, my first "babies" turned 10. Ten. Years. Old.
I'd sigh and say, "Where did the time go?" but I know very well where it went. It passed with daily fights and arguments; with baseball seasons and hockey seasons; with school, spelling tests, reading and enrichment programs; with holidays and vacations; more fights and arguments; with video games and countless pick-up games of basketball, football, baseball, soccer, etc.
And it passed so quickly.
Each year, since the boys turned a year old, I have taken a photo of them at the time of their birth. Lucky for me it spans about two full minutes because it usually takes them that long to get situated and for me to beg them to smile a "nice" smile. Just one. Then I have to promise to take a "crazy" picture. Tonight, we had the family out for a birthday round of mini golf. As 9pm drew near, the boys were obsessed with the time. "What time is it?! What time is it?!" they asked about every 15 seconds. Then it was time. I snapped the photo, then took individual shots for a change of pace. (Photos to post later -- camera battery charging, and I am just too tired to stay up much longer!)
Jack and Charlie are growing into such wonderful individuals -- although others might see just a pair of (sometimes obnoxious) brothers who tend to fight (a lot!) and are highly competitive with each other and seem to be on the losing end of the fight to remember manners and appropriate behavior. What I see are my two babies. The two babies who got me as their mom, and who had to endure all my "first-time-mommy" moments. Many times I felt like I was failing them, but they not only survived -- they thrived.
Not many people remember where they were, or what they were doing 10 years ago on any given date. I do. Ten years ago tonight, I was wheeled into an operating room, scared out of my mind at the thought of having the doctor cut into my abdomen and pull out two babies. And when the doctor got Jack out and I heard his gurgly cry for the first time, I am not ashamed to admit my first thought was, "I am so not ready for this." Then came Charlie just one minute later, and I knew this was no time for doubt. God gave me the gift of two babies at once. He wouldn't have bestowed the blessing if He didn't know I could handle it. I have often said, in the years that followed, that God proved he has a fantastic sense of humor when he looked at me and said, "Give her two."
It's 11:40pm, and I know 10 years ago right now I was laying in my hospital bed, cradling two newborns. Early the next morning, a nurse would bring in Jack, fresh from a bath. He was swaddled tightly in his blanket, and the nurse had slicked his shock of black hair down to his head. He was the most beautiful baby I'd ever seen. (Charlie was kept in the nursery for most of that first day because he was having trouble regulating his temperature. But he joined us soon after.)
Like any devoted parent, I love my children. Fiercely. Sure, we have many moments throughout the days when we go head-to-head. Strong-willed and stubborn kids being royal pains in the butt to their equally strong-willed and stubborn mom. But that's us. That's how we are now. It's how we have been in the past, and how I'm sure we'll be far into the future. They make me crazy with their arguing, competitiveness and fighting. But they also make me proud -- proud enough to feel my eyes well up with tears and have my breath catch in my throat when they excel at the sports they love, bring home a stellar report card or make a good decision. Some of my most favorite moments are when one of them will stop as he walks past me in the house, throw his arms around my waist and say,"I love you, Mom." Just because.
So, with all of these random thoughts, I want to wish a very happy and special birthday to Jack and Charlie. You were my first babies, and you will always BE my babies. :) I love you both from here to the moon and back a million times. And welcome to the double-digits.