In a little over a month, it will be five years since my wife gave birth to our beautiful red-headed baby boy, but it seems just like yesterday.
I can still remember being discharged and having to make the 15-mile drive from the United Regional Hospital in Wichita Falls, Texas to Burkburnett with our new baby boy tucked into his car seat. And while it may have only been 15 miles, it certainly felt closer to 500.
My wife and I were nervous wrecks.
Neither of us had ever been parents before and were terrified of being even just a short drive away from the hospital.
What if he choked? What if he wouldn’t stop crying? Could something be wrong? What if he came down with some kind of life-threatening disease and we had only five minutes to get him to a hospital?
It was irrational, but what did we know about being parents?
I don’t know that I came within 20 miles per hour of the speed limit that entire drive back to Burkburnett. In fact, I was probably only going 20 miles per hour.
It was rough at first, but it turns out we had a pretty awesome kid. He never really spit up, he was mild-mannered and he loved to sleep — except when we did, then he loved being awake.
I worked in Lawton at the time and woke up at 5:20 a.m. to shower and make the drive each morning and it gave me anxiety every day to be away from him just in case something happened.
We both went without sleep, though she got even less than I did, which probably contributed a great deal to the anxiety.
But pretty soon, our little baby boy was learning how to crawl and when I say crawl, I mean he could book-it across a carpeted floor. At the same time, he was getting to the point where he could almost sleep through the night.
Shortly after that, his first tooth came in and the pictures we took then are still some of my favorite pictures to this day. He had just the single tooth in the front and when he grinned, it showed.
The thing about him is he was always grinning. That is just the kind of baby he was.
Then he learned how to walk and talk. When he first told us he loved us, he would say what sounded like, “Wey su.” It was adorable and it stuck with him for a very long time.
The first time he told me he loved me and he said it correctly, was probably the first time that it hit home how much he had grown up.
Now I look back over the last five years and wonder where the time has gone.
My baby boy is now starting pre-k and although he is still our sweet baby boy, he is more independent these days and needs us less and less.
On Tuesday, we will reluctantly walk him into Mrs. McKenzie’s pre-k classroom at the Altus Early Childhood Center and say goodbye to him for an extended period of time for only the third or fourth time in his entire life.
I am not yet ready for him to grow up anymore. I am not even remotely close to being ready for intermediate school, junior high, or high school and I do not know that I will ever be ready for him to be on his own.
The only thing I want to do right now is rewind the last five years and relive them all over again because I never believed that he would grow up this fast.
And just like when I was a new father, nobody prepared me for this part either.
Reach Ryan Lewis at 580-482-1221, ext. 2076.