Your first baby is just a whole new world. Their little fingers and toes are everything. You finally understand time in a new way as the days feel like a month and a month feels like a day. The sweet joy is palpable with this new bundle. And the next one? Absolutely the same joy. And you swear, even amongst this exhaustion and tiredness, that you will never forget their precious littleness.
I knew this time was fleeting. I felt it racing by as my heart was clinging desperately to the presence of her chubby cheeks and sweet, sweaty hands. How her little voice and facial expressions were. His tiny perfection. I wanted these memories to stay with me forever.
I swore I’d never forget that little hand holding mine.
But I have.
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Now, with four children, my oldest two are independent school kids. They don’t need help or to be reminded to go to the bathroom or to wash their hands. They don’t need to hold my hand when we cross streets. They know what to do on their homework quicker than I can guess. My babies are now these tall, gangly, beautiful amazing kids. They’re not tiny anymore. They don’t fit perfectly on my hip or lap.
As I look back on photos and videos, they’re about all I have for memories of their littleness. I can hardly believe how small they used to be. It’s bittersweet looking back. How grateful I am that we have those photos and videos because without them I wouldn’t recognize those cuties.
You see, my memory reserves are a bit shot. Perhaps it’s from the sleep deprivation that I don’t remember much of my babies. Perhaps it’s that I usually have another little one I’m doting on as the next one grows.
Whatever the reason, I have forgotten. And that’s OK.
It’s OK because I have stayed present. I may not remember much of that fun, talkative toddler, but I know this 8-year-old has a choir performance at 10:15 that I’m not going to miss. I may not remember just how chubby his cheeks were when he was two years old, but I know his dreams of building a giant LEGO mansion. I may not remember that sleeping baby in my arms, but I know how his eyes light up when I say I’ll play Paw Patrol with him. I may not remember that newborn cry, but I know how his molar feels breaking through his gums.
It’s OK that I have forgotten because it’s the you that is now is infinitely more important to me than who you were then. I’ll mourn that memory loss and reminisce on the photos and videos when I have the time. But the you that is now? Darling, once you are my baby, you will always be my baby and I will look at you as such. No matter the quarrels we get into, you will always be my baby. Preciously important, just as you were since day one.
I have forgotten the you that was, but I know the you that you are right now.
This present you is more paramount than any past or future versions you have or will be. I am still obsessed and engulfed in who you are. Love doesn’t get stuck in the past or leap to the future, it’s in all the seasons.
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But the now? This now love is everything.
Motherhood doesn’t stop when you quit calling me “Mommy.” It pushes forward, and I wouldn’t miss it for all the memory storage in the world. So I won’t rush the present, and I won’t lament over the past. I’ll love you today just as I did yesterday and will tomorrow.