It’s 3 a.m. Your daddy and your little sister are sleeping soundly while you snuggle on my chest as we rock slowly back and forth in the rocking chair in your room. Your sniffles break the silence as you start to calm down from whatever woke you. I’m not sure if it was a bad dream, a creak of the house, or the wind on the window that startled you awake, but I don’t care. These moments we have together are becoming fewer and farther between, and right now, I’m soaking it in.

As I breathe in the smell of your tousled hair, I’m immediately taken back to the moments two years ago when I was breathing in your newborn smell. You looked so small in my arms, and now you barely fit in my lap. How can a moment feel like a lifetime ago and just like yesterday at the same time? How are the days so long, but the months just fly by? How are you already two, my sweet boy?

You’re growing up too fast for me. Gone are the days when you were completely dependent on me.

Every day, you discover a new level of independence, and you so badly want the freedom to do everything on your own. My little baby boy is gone, and a sweet, spunky toddler has replaced him. I am both so proud to watch you grow and so heartbroken to see you start to leave stages behind.

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Don’t get me wrong—I absolutely love this stage you’re in. I love seeing you discover the world around you. I love that our conversations become deeper and our understanding of each other expands as your vocabulary increases. I live for those big, sloppy kisses you plant on my face, and the hugs you give that are so big and so fierce sometimes we both tumble backward. I love watching you with your little sister. You two are only 12 months apart, but you are already so protective of her.

With as much joy as these moments bring me, they are always sprinkled with a little bit of sadness because I know they won’t last forever.

Your breathing is starting to slow down and even out. I glance down at your face, and my heart breaks just a little. Maybe it’s my exhaustion or the moonlight peeking in through your window, but I can see a glimpse of my baby boy etched in your face. You look so sweet and innocent in my arms. I know it’s late, and we should both go back to bed, but I don’t want to let this moment go.

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I know that all too soon, you won’t call for me in the middle of the night. All too soon, my snuggles and kisses won’t fix your scrapes or calm your fears. I wish you could stay this little just a little longer. I squeeze you tighter, knowing in a few minutes I’ll need to lay you down.

I’ll have to let you go.

I gently kiss your forehead one more time, and then again because I just can’t help it. I give you a big squeeze and try to trace this moment into my heart so I can remember it forever. As I lay you back down in your bed, you roll over and snuggle your blanket as you settle in for a few more hours of sleep.

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I lay back in my bed, willing myself to try to get a little more sleep too. I know someday you and I will both sleep through the night, and we’ll no longer have our late night, early morning moments together, but I try not to worry about that now. Tonight, we still had it.

I start to fade back to sleep with a smile on my face because I know that no matter how big and independent you get, you’ll always be my sweet baby boy.

Katelyn Cushey

Katelyn is the lucky mom of two sweet children, Spencer and Delaney. She lives with her kids and husband in Florida. She loves to share her stories with others through writing in the hopes of helping at least one person realize she is not alone. You can follow her on Facebook and on her personal blog, A Perfectly Messy Life.