Recently I’ve been having this looming sense of impending loss. I feel it every time I’m with you. There is a desperate feeling of borrowed time. That this phase is shortly coming to an end.
I’ve stopped correcting you now when you mispronounce a word, knowing a few months down the line you’ll be correcting yourself, and I can wait for that time to come. You’ve started reasoning with me with more logic. Precise logic that makes me wonder where the baby in you went.
Every time I’m with you these days, I feel you getting older—physically, mentally—in every single way. And I stare at you sometimes wondering how you started out so innocent and so pure. I wonder when the tantrums started, when the refusing to eat started, when the throwing things when you got angry started. I wonder how you began to develop all of these traits when you were not so long ago running around in a diaper laughing relentlessly at the most mundane of things like the shake of a water bottle or balloons in the sky.
I feel like I’m holding on to the baby in you with delicate silver threads, knowing full well they are starting to break.
You still laugh uncontrollably when I cover my face with my fingers and shout boo. And I wonder how long that will still be amusing for you. Like when you ask if we can play hide-and-seek yet you tell me where to hide and laugh relentlessly every time I find you. I wonder when that will stop, when you’ll stop finding all these simple, mindless things extraordinary because I know that time is around the corner. I feel it in my bones. And it’s those ordinary moments you make so extraordinary that have made this chapter of my life so magical.
I know you will no longer be fascinated with mermaids or submarines, excavators or superheroes. I feel the version of you I am so madly, deeply in love with is slipping through my fingers like when you clench a handful of sand and as much as you try to hold it, it slips through.
They say the toddler years are the hardest, and they have been.
Navigating tantrums, missed naps, defied logic have tested me more than I could have imagined. At the same time, I’ve never felt more alive than I do now, more loved, or more certain with every cell in my body that I was meant to be your mother and you were meant to be my child.
Everything is compounded. The bad behavior, the good behavior, the exponential love, and the moments you simply have no words for because they are just so perfect. Like when you whispered in my ear the other day that you wanted to tell me a secret, “You’re the best mama in the world.” Who even taught you what a secret was, or how to whisper, or what to say to make me feel like the luckiest mother alive? When does all this growing up happen? I feel blindsided by it.
I never ever want to forget how pure you are and how deeply you feel.
How deeply you care for your little stuffed toys or when the wrong color of plate is given to you at breakfast time, how deeply you love when you cling to my clothes and cry to sleep in my bed every night. At the moment, I get frustrated, wanting to finally end my day, and then when I sit down and rest in bed and I’m consumed with thoughts of our day and this overwhelming sense of love and wishing you were awake again, I realize . . . how can I be frustrated with someone who doesn’t want to go to bed without me? Someone who cries for a solid 10 minutes every night because they want to sleep in the comfort of me. How can I get frustrated with that?
There is only so long you’ll cry for me and my bed, only so long you’ll reach out for my hand every minute of the day, only so long that mealtimes will be a negotiation, and a missed nap will no longer be the focal point of the day, and I’ll long for the days where the hardest thing was getting you to eat your broccoli.
When I carry your long dangly 3-year-old body in my arms, I’m reminded of when I carried you when you were a tiny baby weighing 7.9 pounds. I get the same feeling of carrying the whole world in my arms, and I’m reminded in that very moment, I can freeze time. In that moment, if I close my eyes, I can remember those surreal moments of calm when you rested on my body as a newborn, as a 6-month-old, as a 1-year-old, and right here and now as you barely resemble that little baby, I experience every ounce of the same feeling I had on the very day I held you for the first time. This devouring, consuming, overwhelming, breathtaking love.
And I know the time is around the corner when you’ll no longer insist I carry you in my arms and so for now I just want to remind myself that although my bones ache, we don’t have much longer.