I Love You, Bro

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love
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I stand close by as he impatiently corrects a couple of missed problems on his math homework. I make myself busy putting away clean dishes, knowing all too well that he’ll get frustrated if I hover. I notice his hands as he explains his strategy on the last problem. They’re suddenly so grown. Pudgy, sticky hands have been replaced with long fingers. Have his fingernails doubled in size? What is happening? 

When I check his work and give him the nod of approval, he jumps up from his seat at the kitchen counter, fist-pumping the conclusion of homework time. “Let’s gooooooo,” he loudly chants, flexing the lean 9-year-old arm muscles that seemed to appear out of thin air, like, five minutes ago. He grabs his Nintendo Switch, announces he’s going to the neighbor’s house, and he’s out the door.

I pause at the kitchen island, remembering the little boy who wouldn’t dare attend a playdate without his Mommy. The kid that spent a combined total of two waking hours in his bedroom over the years because the action was wherever I was. For almost a decade, his playtime was my playtime. Suddenly, I have to call him home for dinner.

That’s the thing about boys. They’re sneaky with the growing up. A love so intense that it hurts a little; these little guys transition us from Mommy to Mom to Bro in the blink of a (tired) eye. This week, he was down with a stomach bug. I couldn’t help but think how nice it was to give him my full attention for the day, compared to our usual family of five, three-ring circus. I told him how great it was to spend the day together while he recovered. He replied with a half smile, laser-focused on his Fortnite battle. “Hey… I love you,” I loudly whispered to grab his attention. He looked up, smiled, and replied, “Yeah.”

His way of love is changing. The need for constant hugs and reassurance has been replaced with playfulness, teaching me tween slang and the occasional true hug (usually when I bring home the good snacks from the grocery). His view on the world is evolving rapidly, and I’m 10/10 dedicated to meeting him where he is on any given day. Today that might mean a little space. Tomorrow, it might mean learning how to be a gamer. It feels scary and out of my control watching him change, but what’s the point of pouring into him for almost a decade if I don’t get to enjoy the masterpiece he’s becoming?

Nine years in. For the next nine, while I have him at home with me, I’ll be Bro. I’ll revel in the little acts of love: when he encourages me to reach my fitness goals, invites me to (watch him) play Fortnite, or sneakily sits close to me on the couch without announcing his need for a back scratch. It’s the little things with these boys. I love you, Bro.

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Bailey Streicher
A self-proclaimed "Hot Mess Mom", Bailey is enjoying her whirlwind life in Brownsburg with her husband, two toddlers, and golden doodle. She's a proud IU graduate, former Indianapolis Colts Cheerleader, and now taking on her greatest adventure of all, motherhood. When she's not chasing her kids, she has a passion for dance, yoga, and Netflix. Bailey enjoys writing about real life as a mom: the good, the bad, and the sticky.

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