I Hear Them Growing

I Hear Them Growing

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.

I hear.

Parenting Photography

52 Weeks of Brotherhood: The One with the Height

Hug Your Brother

LittleBrother grows every single day. I swear to you.

He recently came off a mean growth spurt. “Mean” in the literal sense, as he became grumpy and moody and dissolved into puddles of tears at the slightest provocation. To get through the darkest of days, we ended up putting him to bed at 6:30 in the evening whereupon he slept until I woke him at 7:20 in the morning to get ready for school. If we attempted to deviate from nearly 13 hours of sleep, the wheels fell off of our day at about 4:00 in the afternoon.

During the Growth Spurt of Doom, I kept looking at BigBrother. He falls into the Slow but Steady growth class. He suffers from growing pains regularly, but the middle-of-the-night pains seem to be caused more by a slow stretch of his bones than a sudden spurt. The size seven jeans that he got last winter still fit this winter.

Which made me nervous.

Because these two boys seem to be ruining my Clothing Plan.

For All of Brother Time, BigBrother has handed down his clothes to LittleBrother. When the younger of the two comes up on the new size, usually two years later, I open the tub of clothes I stored in the basement, sort through what seems as if it will work, donate what won’t work or doesn’t seem like something he would like, and supplement with new clothes of his own. New clothes always involve anything navy blue, because navy blue fades so horribly over the course of one child’s wearing. Also added in are fun shirts of his current liking (think the new Mario and Luigi shirt he just picked), underwear (because obviously), dress shirts/holiday clothes, and so on. I spend a fraction of what I end up spending on an entire new wardrobe for BigBrother every time he comes up on a new size.

Over the summer and into the fall, I watched LittleBrother creep up on BigBrother… height wise. Many readers of the blog, friends, and family members commented on it. “Oh, he’s catching up!” I nodded, the realization of looming double-wardrobe spring and fall shopping trips sitting heavy in my wallet.

Then I started to worry about other things, like how BigBrother will feel if his younger brother surpasses his height before they reach adulthood. Honestly, I kind of expect it then; BigBrother takes after my side of the family and LittleBrother after my husband’s side. While my paternal grandfather, one of my uncles, and two of my cousins qualify as tall, no one else does. My husband’s side of the family isn’t gargantuan either, but LittleBrother has always been long and lean. I have always figured he would end up being the taller of the two boys. In the end. Not when they’re six- and eight-years-old. Or seven and nine. Or so on.

I remember when I came home on winter break from college one year. Suddenly, my brother — eight years younger than me — stood over me. Literally. It blew my mind. I’d always been taller, stronger… and that “little” brat picked me up over his head. Not that I have any leftover bitterness about it at all.

How will BigBrother react if his younger brother passes him up while they’re still in elementary school? Or worse, middle school. Ugh. Middle school brings the yuck factor of self-worth enough on its own without harboring ill will against your brother for his height — over which he has no control.

Good news came the first week of the new year as I noticed that BigBrother seemed ready for a flood in his size seven jeans. Of course, that meant I had to buy new jeans two weeks after Christmas, but whatever. Being the thrifty and savvy mom I am, I already had a few pair of pants ready to put into his rotation. I picked up some others on steep discount in the post-Christmas “please keep buying our stuff” sales.

For now, the older brother will keep being taller… especially so if the younger one keeps being ridiculously goofy when I’m trying to take a picture of them next to each other to show their height.

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