I don't know when it happened exactly. I suppose it's been a gradual, almost imperceptible shift.
There are hints of it in the long and increasingly mature conversations over morning cereal, in the way my men are really expressing empathy and genuine concern for others in their prayers, in the elaborate cooperative games they are creating among themselves.
I hear it when my oldest says, "we're running late Mama. I'll take in the groceries. You hop in the shower."
Or when my middle son sets the table without being asked, or grates the cheese. He no longer needs me to stand over him and fuss over fingers too close to the grater. He can handle it.
I'm aware of it when we read together. "You read this chapter, and then I'll read the next."
I feel this shift too, in the recent arrival of collaborative family projects. There's paint by numbers pieces that lay on our craft table. Each of us stopping now and again throughout the day to add to them. Sometimes too, I hear, "hey! I just fit a new piece into the puzzle!" (the one that takes up our dining room table). Later, we are huddled together over a new endeavor for us, woodburning (a gift for a loved one), and I hear, "You do the curves Mama. I'll do the straight lines."
It is most apparent when we play music together. They are simple songs, but it has been months in the making… the moment when we can add our little parts and, together, make our song fuller, richer.
Truth be told, it is years in the making – this time when we move from simply nurturing, loving, care-taking of little ones to a new phase, one in which we truly share in life with our young men. We cooperate, converse, work as a team, add our notes together to create real harmony.
Sweet sweet music.