I don’t remember the last time I washed a onesie. 

I don’t mean this in the way people do when they say, for instance, “I don’t remember the last time I had ice cream” (which I do, it was last night) or, “I don’t remember the last time my husband and I went to a movie in the theater” (which I don’t, but I think it might have been when we saw something about a boat, an iceberg, and a heart-shaped necklace). 

I mean I don’t have a specific memory of that poignant mom moment, that “last.” 

I imagine I didn’t realize I was doing it at the time and so didn’t pay too much attention to it. My husband and I didn’t officially decide to be done after two children, so even if I had consciously known I’d never wash that tiny piece of my second-born’s wardrobe again, I wouldn’t have given it the weight of a last last. 

In retrospect, I know that was supposed to be a maternal milestone I watched for and gave its due. But since I wasn’t aware it was happening, by the time I recognized it, I was packing up a few of my girls’ most treasured pieces of baby clothing that I couldn’t quite bear to part with and storing them away for someday.

Now, as a mom of older daughters, I wash dance leotards and college t-shirts and skinny jeans and “that gray shirt with the crocheted part on it that I want to wear next Wednesday” and sweaters in gorgeous shades of blush and dusty rose that I ask to borrow for myself. 

Yet the children who wear these things are still my babies. 

They still need hugs and kisses. 

They still need feeding and nurturing and guiding. 

They still need comforting and consoling.

They still need to be held. 

They still need things only I can give. 

And here is the other thing: I love and cherish and enjoy and treasure these babies-turned-teenagers as much as I did when I was washing their onesies. I think I might even love them more, actually, because to know my daughters is to love them, and I know them more than I did then. I know their minds and their hearts and their personalities and their passions and their temperaments and their natures, and it all gives me more to love. 

My children are bigger, and the pieces of clothing they put in the laundry are bigger, but my love for them is bigger, too, because our love as moms grows right along with our babies.

And it keeps growing even when those babies have babies themselves. The other day, I got this text from my mom: “Daughter, how are you? Do you need a day on the couch with your mother’s care?” (I didn’t, really, but I sure needed my mama to ask. Thanks, Mom.)

That kind of love is something there’s never a last time for.

It’s something we never pack away. 

It’s something our babies never outgrow.

It’s something they never stop needing from us, and it’s something we never stop giving to them. 

Elizabeth Spencer

Elizabeth Spencer is mom to two teenage daughters who regularly dispense love, affection, and brutally honest fashion advice. She writes about faith, food, and family (with some occasional funny thrown in) at Guilty Chocoholic Mama and avoids working on her 100-year-old farmhouse by spending time on Facebook and Twitter.