Today I wish I could go back. I wish I could go back and hold you as an infant. I wish I could smell your skin and rock you just a little longer. I wish I could be still and feel that moment just one more time.
When I look at pictures of you in your toddler years with your round cheeks and pudgy hands, I smile. Inside my heart breaks a little bit because I wish I could squeeze you as you ask me a billion questions in your tiny voice, just one more time.
You're laying on the couch next to me with your giant feet protruding under a fleece blanket and a book in your hands. How and where has this time gone, I think. I can remember when you were just a whisper and a glimmer of a dream. And here you are, this giant boy that will be a man when I blink just a few more times.
You've become gifted in the art of rolling your eyes when you disagree, and saying "Mom, just listen to me for a second…". I'm not always good at listening; I know that. We don't always agree and sometimes I don't handle our disagreements very well; I'm working on that.
But no matter what, you're still my little boy. Even though your hands are bigger than mine; even though I can smell you coming with this brand new gift of B.O; you're still my little boy.
When I look back at those days when you were just a dream in my heart or a nine pound baby in my arms…I had no idea. I had no idea the incredible young man you would become. I had no idea how my heart would stretch and grow with every day of being your mom.
I had no idea how proud or in love I would be.
Being your mom has been so much messier than I anticipated. I've made so many more mistakes than I thought I would, but I've never been more proud of anything I've done in my entire life. You have taught me what it is to truly love.
You just got up from your reading and did a little dab and floss when I told you you could grab the video games. I wish I could go back, but I wouldn't want to miss a second of watching you right now. Raising you has been so much more stretching, but so much better than I ever thought it would be.
No matter how old you get I will always be 21 years ahead. It isn't much, and as you get older it will seem like less, but I will always be your Mama and you will always be my boy. These arms are here for squeezing you; these ears are here for listening to you; and this heart will hold you forever and a day.
Seeing the young man you are is the best, most precious gift I never could have dreamt up.
Sometimes I wish I could go back; but son, you'll always be my little boy, today and every day.
A version of this post originally appeared on WonderOak in 2018. It has been updated.