I can barely keep my eyes open and my entire body is shaking from the anesthesia. As they stitch me up from this unplanned C-section, someone brings him to me, wrapped tightly in a blanket with a small blue-and-pink striped hat covering his head. My baby, who I felt growing within me for the better part of this year. My son is here.
He screams with excitement when he realizes he’s no longer holding onto anything. He’s actually doing it. His first independent steps. He can’t keep the huge grin off of his face as he toddles across the room and straight into my arms.
He’s buckled in his car seat. We’re making our daily commute to daycare and work. He hates to be restrained and unable to reach me in the car. “Mama, HAND,” he cries out as I contort my arm to hold his little hand while we’re waiting at this red light.
He’s climbing up the playground, higher and higher. He reaches his destination—the coveted spiral green slide. Over and over, we follow him at a close distance while he climbs the stairs and runs across the little bridges to get to his favorite slide.
He sits on the little green potty chair with the frog face and jumps up to show us that he accomplished his goal. We buy tiny underwear and our diaper budget is suddenly much smaller. It’s been a whole week of successful potty training. We take him to Target to select a reward and watch him run through the toy aisles before he finally settles on yet another Hot Wheels track.
He sits on my hospital bed and holds his new baby sister. But wait, wasn’t it just yesterday that he was the one in the scratchy hospital swaddle? Was it so long ago that he was the one with the scrunched-up newborn face, sleeping on my chest?
He walks into his kindergarten classroom and puts his supplies in his new desk. Markers, glue sticks, pencils, a dry erase board to practice writing his letters and words on. A few days later, we drop him off with his oversized backpack and his new red basketball shoes and the red Nike lunchbox he had to have. He’s officially in elementary school. And before I know it, he’s marching across the stage in his little blue cap and gown, a confident soon-to-be first grader.
“Don’t blink,” they said.
“Enjoy every moment—it goes so fast,” warned every older woman who crossed my path with my pregnant belly or baby in tow.
I tried so hard not to blink. I tried to take it all in, to really absorb every moment, to be fully present and remember all the little details.
But he’s almost 7 now. Already 1/3 of the way to being an actual adult. And I’m here to tell you that it really is going so fast. It didn’t always feel like that. I didn’t want to hear it when he was a baby or a toddler when the days seemed to drag by and I felt so alone as a new mother and I was positive there would never come a time when he’d sleep through the entire night on his own.
I’m here to tell you that it does go so fast. There’s nothing you can do to change that. You have to blink, and your baby has to grow up, and IT’S OK. More than OK, it’s wonderful. But if you’re anything like me, you might feel tempted to think the following:
Did I do enough? Did I make the most of the time that we had?
Raising kids, we will never achieve perfection. We cannot hold onto or absorb it all. We will probably not enjoy every single moment, and that’s OK. That little baby will go from one phase to the next before you’ve even realized what happened. And when my baby was still a baby, this made me so emotional—I wanted to keep him tiny forever.
But can I tell you one more thing? Each phase so far has somehow been even better than the one before it. There is joy in this journey, even if you shed a quick tear for the versions of your child that now only exist in photos and memories. It is such a blessing to be able to watch your child grow up and blossom into the person they were created to be.
So go ahead and blink.