My boy is ten today. Double digits. Just a no-big-deal decade. Last night Jason went out for drinks with some friends so after tucking Gryffin in for his last night as a nine-year-old, I naturally fell into the vortex of birthday nostalgia and spent an hour scrolling through pixelated versions of my boy — from birth all the way up to… well, yesterday.
The math is simple, really. First child + first iPhone = A LOT of pictures.
I zoomed in on his face during his fourth birthday and squinted at shots from the day he took his first steps. I laughed quietly as I looked through the images of him with his brother and cousins the year they tried to sell jokes and lemonade. I cried looking at the day he started kindergarten in his little red shoes.
For school this week he was supposed to bring in an artifact to share with his class. Something that held some sort of significance in his life. While he wrestled with what to bring — had to be cool, obvs — I thought about how I would have no trouble whatsoever selecting an artifact for him. His frog! His Zelda book! The matchbox cars or Lego fire truck. His blanket, his bike helmet, his bumble bee pajamas. He chose his first Calvin & Hobbes collection. Not one of the things I suggested (naturally) but a solid choice all the same.
After dropping him off at school on the day he was to present his artifact, I looked at his Zelda book for a long time. He had left it, open, on the counter next to his half-eaten bowl of Cheerios. I picked it up and held it in my lap, careful not to lose his place, and leafed through the fraying pages. They are worn and torn now, after hours upon hours of Gryffin lovingly flipping through them, reading about lizalfos and bokoblins, scouring for clues and information about his favorite game and for a moment I had an vision of myself, years in the future, sitting with this same book and weeping.
I took a walk alone along the waterfront this morning, the morning my boy turned ten, and remembered the day he was born. I remembered the radiance in the room, the holiness of the moment when he made the transition from being inside of my body to outside of my body. I remembered giving him his first bath and the first time he rode a bike. I remembered the cupcakes we made for his third birthday and the Lego set we gave him last year.
I walked and I thought of all this; of all the pictures that I looked at last night and the Zelda book and every other artifact of his life. And mostly I felt profoundly sad. Sad that certain things in my life are over and that I can’t bring any of them with me. I can look at pictures until my eyes burn and my neck aches and I can clutch the artifacts until they turn to dust in my hands but they won’t take me back and they can’t come with me.
I trudged on for a while, feeling the weight of having dipped my cup into this great well of anguish. But then I turned around and started the mile-long trek back to my car. And I thought then that if this is true — that I can’t take any of it with me — then all I’ve got is right here, right now. Today. This hour. This minute. This second. With this incredible kid who made me a mother. If this is true, then surely there is a deep pool of abiding joy to plunge my hands into as well. And a mountain of memories to help magnify each moment.
So, ok then. Let’s get this party started.