“You’re my best friend,” I whisper as he rolls his favorite blue car up and down my leg.
I tell Everett he’s my best friend every day, even though it’s technically not the truth. Brett is my true best friend, followed by a series of trustworthy girlfriends (a few of whom saw me in a bikini seven weeks after giving birth, talk about putting the trust in trustworthy).
But when you spend just about every waking minute with someone, day after day and week after week and month after month, it’s hard NOT to consider them your best friend, even when your deepest conversations with that person revolve around which cartoon to watch after nap time.
Once upon a time, Everett considered me to be his best friend, too. I think the experts would call it separation anxiety but I choose to remember it as the season in which Everett preferred me and only me, and I was 100% okay with it. We were attached at the hip, literally, thanks to my Ergo carrier.
And now he is two and I can already feel the change—the good, hard, inevitable change that accompanies the art of growing up.
You see, there was a time when I picked Everett up from gym daycare or from a playdate, and his reaction was always the same. He would run straight towards me with arms open wide, yelling “Baba! Baba!” (momma). And I would scoop him up in my arms and kiss his face 14 times and smell his sweaty hair and squeeze him tight.
He missed me.
And now, when I pick Everett up, he glances in my direction—sometimes yelling “momma!” and sometimes not—before going back to his friends, his play, his little life that exists whether or not I am in the room.
And the practical part of me smiles in relief because my baby is turning into a well adjusted, independent boy, who loves to play with other kids and is capable of obeying other adults. And the emotional part of me wants to cry a little bit because he no longer finds existing without me for short periods of time to be an impossible feat.
He is fine.
He gets excited when I drop him off for playdates, and practically sprints through the gym to get to daycare, eager to hop into the ball pit. For so long I wanted that, for him to be okay when I left. And now that it’s here, this okay-ness, this fine-ness, this ability to function well without me, my heart sometimes aches for that separation anxiety. The same separation anxiety that used to give me anxiety.
Motherhood is weird that way.
We carry on. We continue to spend almost every waking minute together, day after day and week after week and month after month. I still tell him that he is my best friend, even though I know he has his own best friends now, like Lakai and Benjamin. And then I crawl into bed with my real best friend and we talk about the days when Ev was tiny enough to sleep on our chests and oh where did those days go?
While it’s easy to say goodbye to some of those days (diaper blowouts! spit-up! middle-of-the-night feedings!), it’s hard to say goodbye to some of the others, like the days when I used to be his best friend.