Big brown eyes bordered by long delicate lashes lock with mine. Chubby cheeks grow rounder as a toothless smile spreads across his face. His feet kick excitedly and his arms reach out toward me. If I could freeze time, it’s moments like this that I’d keep forever.

There’s nothing quite like the magic of babyhood. But it is so fleeting. Pink, squeaky newborns quickly turn into soft, chubby infants, who become mobile masters of mischief. Then, before you know it, you’re blowing out a first birthday candle, celebrating your baby’s graduation into toddlerhood. 

And after all the late-night feedings, early morning snuggles, fevers, colds and coughs, first foods, and oh so many diapers, you’re left with the realization that your baby has grown, and you find yourself surprised that you miss all of the difficult and not so pleasant parts of caring for a baby. 

The love for my kids hit me like a ton of bricks when my first was born. It was shocking. As someone who believed she was strong and independent, my love for that baby brought me to my knees. He was mine and my purpose was to love and protect him.

I soaked up every moment with my first, experiencing all the newness of babyhood like a new mother does. Every milestone he met was an exciting new adventure. 

Things are different with my second child. As I’ve watched my first baby grow into an active, conversational 3-year old, I fully understand how fast time really goes. And despite my best efforts, the universe has not granted my request to slow down time.

So I look at my second baby and know how fleeting this stage is. His soft, round cheeks will soon be the slimmer frame of a toddler’s face. His chubby hands that grip my fingers will roughen with play. His drooly baby babbles will someday form the coherent words and sentences of a pre-schooler. 

While I’m excited to watch him reach all the milestones that an infant sees in his growth, it also tugs at my heart. Because I know that this baby is likely my last baby. 

There’s such a bittersweetness of the last of the firsts. The last first smile. The last first crawl. The last first baby giggle. I would bottle it up if i could, to breathe in as time continues to transform my babies into boys, and one day, men.

While others are rushing around life, I’m desperately trying to grab a hold to slow it down. So if you’re wondering where I am, you will find me soaking in every moment of my last baby. You’ll find me doing the sleepy-eyed shuffle to the nursery to feed and comfort my son while others are sleeping. You’ll find me laying on the floor while my baby crawls and drools all over me. You’ll find me holding his sturdy, soft body until it feels like my arms will break off. You’ll find me so overwhelmed with love that I look at my kids and wonder how did I get to be so lucky?

You may also like:

The Littleness is Leaving Our Home

Your Firsts Are My Lasts—So Grow Gently, My Love

Savor These Moments, Mama, Because Time Flies

Kendra Perley

A mom and professional freelance writer, when not wrangling boys or typing words, Kendra has a fond appreciation of art, yoga, and humor. You can read more about her take on motherhood on her blog, The Maternal Canvas. Find her on Instagram, and Facebook.