She’s not even one yet, and I miss this baby stage already. I can look back at her newborn photos, the ones where it was a win if I managed to capture her with her eyes open and miss those sleep-deprived days. She’ll never be that small again.

I watch the video of her first laugh. I know there will be many more firsts to look forward to, but that one has passed.

Now, at nine months old, I look forward to her naps. Those are the few times I can finish a cup of coffee or get house chores done. But often I find myself holding her. I look down at her sleeping peacefully and know she won’t always fit in my arms. I have older children. I know all too well how quickly this time passes.

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She doesn’t like to sleep alone. She cries for me if she realizes she’s in her crib. Some say I need to let her cry herself to sleep. Well, I can’t do that. I pick her up as soon as she fusses and lay her down with me. She wants to be close to me. She wants to snuggle with me and fall asleep by my side. I know there will come a day when she tells me to leave her alone. I will cherish this time she wants with me.

I miss it already.

When she wakes up, she looks around for me. It’s the first thing she does after sitting up in her crib. I acknowledge her right away, and she gives me a big smile. How long will it be before the first thing she looks for in the morning is her phone? I’ll always stop what I’m doing to tell her good morning, to scoop her up and hold her in my arms. Because I know these years don’t last forever.

Don’t get me wrong. There are hard days. There are very hard days. Days when she is cranky, days the only thing I can accomplish is caring for her. They are long and tiring. But on those days I remind myself that her first day of kindergarten will come. I’ll be home by myself, free to accomplish many tasks. But I’ll spend my day missing her instead.

On the nights she fights sleep and those nights she gets up hours too early wanting to play, I remind myself someday she’ll be staying nights with her friends. But I still won’t be well-rested because I’ll be texting her every hour wishing she’d check-in.

I don’t love every minute of parenthood. There are moments I feel like bursting into tears. But those moments don’t last long, just as these years won’t.

They fly by more quickly than you’d realize. One moment you are holding your sweet baby in your arms, and the next you’re teaching them how to drive.

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I didn’t get it as a first-time parent, or even as a second. But I get it now. Now that my older two have entered high school, I understand I have to hold on to every moment.

My little one is still a baby. She’s here, babbling away baby jibberish I don’t understand. She’s not even walking yet and needs me nearly every moment of every day. I’m living these baby years with her right now, but I find myself missing them already.

Katelyn Washington

Katelyn is a mother to three wonderful children. She is passionate about parenting, environmental issues, and is a pro-life advocate in her community.