Ladybugs will always make me think of 4-year-old you.
The way you squeal with delight, a smile spreading over your entire face when you find one in the yard. How you stare, absolutely mesmerized. The way you reach out your hand and make your little voice so gentle, “Hi, Lady.” How you gingerly set it in the jar and add just the right amount of grass to its makeshift home. I could watch you watch them for hours. In fact, I have.
I love that we share ladybugs, in the same way your middle brother and I pick sunflowers together and your oldest brother and I have a secret handshake.
As moms, this is the stuff we tuck away in our hearts.
These become “our things”—the ones that tie us to one another. They’re proof of how hard we’re loving, proof of us doing life together even though these years can be so busy and filled with distractions.
No matter how old you get—when you start rolling your eyes at me or get your driver’s license or call home from your first apartment—I’ll always have these snapshots to come back to.
And sometimes, like this evening as I watched you chase ladybugs in the yard, I have the total clarity to realize we’re living in the middle of a memory as it’s unfolding.
In these moments, the rush fades away and nothing seems nearly as important as just being present with you.
I stop looking at the clock.
I press pause on cooking dinner.
I let the to-dos that don’t really matter slip away.
I memorize what makes your eyes light up and the cute little phrases you say—the things that make you, you.
Precious, unique, wonderful, you.
If I could freeze you here at four, would I? I’ve wondered that before as if it’s even an option. My brain knows we’d miss out on so much in the future together, but my heart would be tempted. I can’t slow down time, so I’m on a forever mission to soak it all in more instead. To soak you in more.
You had tears in your eyes when it was time to set your ladybugs free before bed. I know just how you felt, sweet girl, because I feel it too when I have to say goodbye to each passing phase of you.
You continue to grow and change, and I adjust and rearrange too as we flow from each season into the next. You learn to spread your wings, and I learn to loosen my grip. That’s the way of it.
Maybe one day you’ll forget you ever liked ladybugs . . . but I won’t. This season is imprinted onto my heart in the permanent kind of way only a mama can hold—and I’ll never forget you, me, and the ladybugs.