When your kids are babies, you spend a lot of time looking at their faces. You hold them a lot and check on them a lot and even though you know they are changing as they grow, you still see their baby faces in real life and in your mind's eye. As they get older and reach the baby (and then toddler) milestones, their faces thin up and grow up, but they still look like babies to you.
But now my boys are four and almost-six. For years, even if during the day they had seemed quite grown-up for their age, I could still sneak into their rooms at night and see them as babies. Something about their little sleeping faces still looked so innocent and baby-esque.
Over the past month or so, however, I've noticed a change. There are times when Luke, my oldest, will make a face or look at me in a certain way and instead of seeing "baby" I see "teenager." It's like for just a second something in the real progression of time shifts and I see what he will look like when he is sixteen and thinks he doesn't need me at all. It's so surreal, yet strangely comforting.
I've also noticed that when I sneak into their room after they are sleeping and check to make sure they are covered up and sleeping well, it is getting more and more difficult to see the "baby" in their faces. They no longer look the same as they looked at six months, only bigger. They look like almost grown-ups, resting from a day of their own thoughts and feelings that have little to do with me. They look so big.
I've read the books and magazines and I know this should make me sad, but it doesn't. I love seeing them grow up and become more independent. Sure, maybe in ten years when they actually want nothing to do with me, I may be sad then. But for now, I am so enjoying experiencing their flourishing personalitities and all the things they are learning and watching them become best friends with each other to the point that they don't need my attention all the time. At some point I may miss their baby faces, but for now I'm just enjoying the moment.