Today, you are seven. This is the anniversary of the day you became mine.
We shall celebrate the day I first met you on the outside and the day you first met the world. It is the anniversary of the last time that I carried a human under my skin and the last time I shook, in terror and wonder and amazement and joy, all in one jolt of hearing that first garbling cry.
And now you are seven. We count your years on the fingers of two hands. Five plus two, you say with your face turned up to mine.
“Yes,” I tell you, my voice cracking in unison with my heart. “It’s a lot of years.”
It practically is, you whisper, climbing up in my lap. It is crowded there in my lap now, you are running out of room. But you still climb in anyway.
Because you are seven. And I am missing what came before, in this process of raising you up. And I am excited for what lies ahead of us both.
This, right now, is the sweet spot of loving you.
You can catch a ball with two hands and you still call me mama.
You can read the street signs and know all the names of the birds in our tree. Robins, Blue Jays. We both like the flaming red Cardinals the best.
You walk to the bus stop all by yourself, unless it is raining or you are running late. But you are always, always running late. There are so many things to load up in your backpack. A bag of goldfish crackers, a folder, a water bottle, four books with knock-knock jokes. There are seven animal shaped erasers in your pocket.
These things are very important, when you are seven. And your backpack is very heavy and your pockets, very full.
Now, your world is growing. And you are starting to wander in a bigger space.
When you are over at the neighbors house, playing with your friend, you might say suddenly “I have to go home and snuggle with my mom” and then you will leave, abruptly, out the door you came in. Or you might stay away for hours, jumping on the neighbors trampoline and laughing in the grass, until I have to come and find you and remind you that Yes, it IS dinner time or You have homework to do, my love.
I taught you to ride a two wheeler this summer and now you whiz around the cul-de-sac like a wild man. Look, mama, I can ride it now with one hand.
Now you are seven. And you ask questions of everyone, about everything. How old were you, mama, when you had me?
“I was almost thirty, little one. And on my next birthday, I’ll be thirty-seven.” There are not enough fingers to show that many years, I think to myself.
We both have sevens, mama.
“We both have sevens, it’s true. I have had a lot more sevens than you,” I tell you.
Yes, you say, contemplatively. And your eyes seem to be brimming full, with all the ideas you have building in your mind. Your mind is moving in every direction, and all of them are away from me. This is how it goes. I’ve done this before. I know how it goes.
But you have not done this before. This is the first time that you have been this age,the first time you have seen the world through the eyes of five plus two and you are starting to figure it all out for yourself.
I will let you figure it out, but I’d like to hold on as long as I can, too. As long as you’ll let me.
“We could sit together on the couch for while,” I suggest, even though there are fourteen million things I should be doing instead. “We could look out the window at the birds in the tree. ”
No, mom. I have things to do. I want to ride my bicycle, I want to go outside before it gets dark.
And though I want you to stay with me, though I want you to climb in my lap and let me kiss your neck, I let you go.
Because that is my job—to let you go, just a little everyday. It is my time, to count to seven and give you a little space to grow.
And it is your job, to capture the hours before dusk. It is your time, to count the stars and count the years and slip them all into your pocket.
Oh, my heart, your pocket—both so very full.
Now that you are seven.