I was planning to write about something else entirely this morning, but then last night I opened the door to my oldest son's room and gasped.
It wasn't because it was messy the way it usually is.
It wasn't because I was starting to wonder where all the cups/hangers/towels in the house were.
It wasn't because he'd left a light on. Again.
I was checking to see if he'd made any progress in there, if what I had asked was something he was actually working on, or if he had spent the better part of the afternoon sitting on the floor playing with his LEGOs or guitars or whatever else it is that he usually does when I ask him to clean his room.
When I opened the door last night, I wasn't really prepared for what I saw, which makes absolutely no sense considering that it was precisely what I had asked of him.
This is what it looked like. (just don't tell him I put a picture of his room on the internet, okay?)
We are starting the long process of moving their rooms. With the baby coming in a few months, the girls are taking over his enormous room to share. He's moving into one of their rooms. Little Boy is moving into the other and the baby will have his room. It's a massive undertaking if I am being honest because they've all lived in this house for almost their entire lives and consequently, there is a lifetime of stuff to re-home.
He's actually made a lot of progress with his room, as you can see. The boxes on the futon are sorted. Some of it is the stuff destined for the basement. The treasures of his younger years that he doesn't need taking up space in his room, but can't bear to part with.
I get that.
He's a sentimental one, this kid.
Always has been.
The other boxes, sorted with the books he is keeping and moving, the art supplies he'll use, the other things that get to stay for now.
It looks like he's packed up and ready to go.
And so when I opened the door last night, anticipating that his floor would be still covered with all of the things, figuring that chaos was waiting, I saw all this instead.
His life. Sorted in boxes.
The past 13 years and the next 5 all flashed before my eyes in that moment.
And the tears that I couldn't fight back urged their way out because it hit me right then and there that this isn't the last time I will see this. Someday he'll pack those boxes up for good, and that someday isn't as far away as I feel like it should be.
This time next year, he'll be done with middle school. This time next year, he'll be looking ahead to high school. He's already chosen which high school he wants to attend, and he's made that choice based on what career path he is intending to take.
He wants to be an ICU nurse.
All the stories of the times my father was in the ICU stuck with him. Seeing my mother in the ICU burned the shortage of highly skilled male nurses into his brain. Knowing that he started his own life in the NICU has made an impression on him. He has a reason for his goals.
He's a helper, just by nature.
He's a gentle, nurturing soul.
He was a good kid who has become a good young man.
He makes me crazy at times and there are days that I'm certain his head would float away into space if it wasn't attached to his body, but I wouldn't trade any piece of him for one second.
He's passionate about what he loves. He's constantly playing a game of 20 questions with the universe, always curious to know more about everything.
And he's growing up, whether I am ready for him to or not.
The time that we have with our children isn't enough. Though there are days that last for an eternity, moments that seem to drag on indefinitely, the years pass with more urgency than we would ever ask.
You don't even realize how fast the clock is running until you open a door one day and it's laid out there in front of you, the pieces of who they've been, who they are, who they want to be, all sorted neatly into boxes.
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