Sometimes I think I hear them growing.
I put them to bed at night. I tuck them in, pull the blankets up to their chins and cover their heads with kisses. And I hear it there, in the night, as I read quietly in my own room, stretched out and relaxed after a long day of working and cleaning and mothering and living.
Ever so softly.
I hear the stretch of time, the pulling away, the growing apart. It is faint; it is loud.
Some nights I barely notice it, only hear it in the rustling of their sheets as they switch from one side to the other, finding a new sweet spot for their ever growing legs.
Other nights it comes in wails; growing pains waking us all. I rub shins and ankles, knees and calves. I whisper soothing sounds in half-sleep stupor. I settle them back down into their beds, under their covers, kiss those heads, and slip back into the cooled off spot in my own bed, thinking, “Someday these growing pains will be over. When they’re much taller than me.”
Sometimes it’s the giggle in their sleep, or a ten minute bout of giggles that wake me at 5:30 in the morning and make me smile so hard. There’s not much worth smiling over at 5:30 in the morning except the sound of your child giggling in his sleep; growing, growing, growing. Sometimes it’s in the words they speak during dreams, some which don’t make sense and others that sound like, “Mommy, I love you.”
And still other times, it’s in the silence—for this is when we grow the most. When we’re not paying attention. When we’re not looking for growth. When we’re busy doing other things and living and breathing and becoming who we are meant to be. We just keep moving and doing and suddenly… we’re different people.
They’re different. They’ve grown.
I put them to bed in pajama pants that fit and they wake up needing deodorant and face wash. I put them to bed and suddenly their feet are as big as mine—and growing. I put them to bed and they stand next to me in the morning and I know all too soon I’ll look them directly in the eyes, for a short time… until I need to look up to see their long lashes, those eyes I gazed into seconds after I pushed them forth into this world.
I put them to bed and I put them to bed and I put them to bed.
And they grow and they grow and they grow.
I listen and wait. I hear it in the timbre of voice, the sound of each footfall. I listen and know. This growth is good; for them, for me, for a society desperately in need of good human beings. Compassionate, caring, if only a little bit ornery. I listen in the silence of night and in the cacophony of day, and I hear.