The other day started out like every other. I grabbed my chubby cheeked toddler out of the car seat to get bundled up for school, but instead of wanting me to carry him in, this time he said, “No, Mama. ME, walk.”
Just like that, there it was.
The last time.
How many times before that had I encouraged him to “be big” and walk on his own or grumbled at having to carry him into school. And now, here we were, his little hand holding mine as we walked into school.
That is the thing about lasts. They sneak up on you. You don’t know to pay attention and memorize every detail of the moment. As I walked back to my car, I couldn’t help but think.
How many other lasts have I missed?
It seems like yesterday we were stacking up blocks, enticing your wrecker instincts to crawl towards them. And then, you did. I remember it perfectly. But in that moment of celebrating your “first” I undeniably missed your “last”. I can’t remember what it was like before that. I have pictures and video but I can’t remember that feeling. That feeling of you lying still next to me as a baby.
I know as your mama, it is my job to help you grow and learn. To let you stumble and stretch your wings, but I would be lying if I didn’t say that with each of your firsts a piece of my mama heart breaks because it also means it was the last.
Motherhood is a funny thing, isn’t it? It’s wanting our babies to grow up, but also stay little. It’s wanting time to speed up, while also wanting it to slow down. But like it or not, time is a train that I can’t slow down and I don’t want to, really. As much as I would love to hit the pause button some days and soak you in a few minutes longer, I can’t wait to see who you become. With each day, you are growing and finding your way in this great big world.
Be gentle on me, my baby as I learn to let go.
My heart breaks knowing that I only get so many more years before my little boy becomes a man. So many years before I no longer am the center of your world.
So for now, I will celebrate the firsts as we have always done, but I will relish and place in my memory the lasts as they come, even though I won’t know to look for them until they are gone.
The last time you ask me to dance with you. The last time you ask me to read you a story. The last time I kneel with you and color at your table. The last time you hold my hand. The last time you grab my face with both of your hands with a “wuv you, Mama.” The last time to kiss away a boo-boo. The last time you look at me with those baby blues and politely ask for “more tickles.”
I want to memorize your face and the dimples in your hands. I want to remember the smell of your hair as you snuggle up next to me. I want to remember it all.
Tonight I will hold you, my love. I won’t wish that you would sleep on your own or lie down without needing me to fall asleep. I won’t rush both you and the day for my own agenda and to-do list running through my head. I won’t get annoyed or wish that this phase will pass because I want to remember this moment. I want to soak you in just as you are right now because all too soon before I know it, one night it will be the last and I won’t see it coming.
I’m not naive, I know that tomorrow time will get away from me and I will get caught up in this, that or the other. But, I hope that I will say “yes” more.
Yes to one more snuggle. Yes to one more kiss goodnight. One more bedtime story. One more bike ride. One more fort building. One more “big jump” because I don’t want to miss the lasts.