First let me say that I was as surprised by the ending to this story as you are. It was not exactly expected, but I’m also not sad at how things have turned out.
I called my husband from work a few Saturdays ago to tell him that Spider-Man*** and Captain America were coming to the zoo to sign autographs. Every, single pretend play event like this is a reminder that my boy is growing up. And I grieve.
“He may not be interested,” I said over the phone. My heart said “Please, God, let him want to come.”
“And he might not want to wear a costume,” I added, in the second phone conversation. “Please, God,” my heart cried. “Let him want to wear a costume. Just one more time.”
“And you might want to get here early,” I said, on the third call this time. “Because it gets really busy, and it’s hot, and the heroes might want to take breaks.” And I may never again have a little superhero who dresses up and comes out, ready to fight crime and drink a cherry Slushie.
My heart is hungry for those one more times. One more time to play dress up and pretend. One more time to belly laugh over Snoopy and his silliness. One more time to crawl into my lap and call me “Mommy.” One more time to ask for help tying a boot. One more time to look with wide-eyed innocence at a world too big and too scary.
And I couldn’t take the pain of the one more time. Because what if it never showed up.
On that sunny Saturday, it did. Dressed in his Captain America best, with the cardboard shield his brother and sister had made for him, he trip-trapped up the sidewalk, ready to conquer the world and have his picture taken. He greeted me coolly, and I could see it in his eyes. That one last time is fast approaching, and one time soon will be the last time for both of us because he is the last, the youngest. Why does it feel so unfair?
Here I stand on the precipice of The End, when it seems like the The Beginnings were only about 10 seconds ago.
Somehow, this kid went from Baby Harry Potter to playing guitar naked to Captain America with the heirloom shield in about a minute. Kids grow up. I know that. I’ve always known that. But he was my last one, and I wasn’t ready.
I thought I was done. I thought the yearnings for a little one would cease by my age. I’ve said for years that I’m done. No more. I’m ready to not have babies. And I was wrong. My husband didn’t feel quite the same as I, but we talked. And negotiated. And talked some more. And he was reluctant but willing.
So I have an announcement to make. We waited a while before telling everyone, and we haven’t even told all of our family and friends yet, but I have some big news.
We got a kitten.
Wait. What did you think I was going to say?
***I just learned how to spell Spider-Man correctly so that Spell-check doesn’t yell. Be happy for me! Or very sad. It has only taken me 44 years.