I read a story this week on social media, about a mother and her observation of time. You know the story. Kids are born, then they grow up, and we’re all left wondering how the heck it happened so quickly.
Except this one stopped on bath time. When kids are young, mom and dad have to do the washing for them. They scrub their ears and those smelly toes and the hair; always the hair. And sometimes, on about year 4, we wonder if and when these precious beings will ever be able to keep their bodies smell free without assistance from an adult.
And then, all of the sudden, they do. They bathe themselves. They wash their own hair. Our help isn’t needed anymore.
When I read that this week, I cried a bit for the future me. I have at least 6 months, maybe more, before the youngest will stop asking for assistance in the tub. And so, upon reading these words, I sighed a big sigh, hopped off the computer and helped my daughter wash her hair. And while my hands were full of suds, I took a mental note of this moment, full of tiny bodies and giggles and water soaked floors. Yes, I have at least 6 months before this moment will pass. And to be honest, I felt bad for the author and good for me.
But then, my little family of 4 went on a trip out of town to visit family for the holiday. When we arrived home late that night, I tried to pick up my oldest from the back seat of our vehicle. I wanted to carry her inside our home to her nice cozy bed, like I’ve done countless times throughout her life. But this time when I picked her up, her 7-year-old legs nearly touched the ground. Her once tiny body is now nearly as long as her mothers.
I couldn’t do it. She asked why. The only response I had in my head was, “You’re just too big. You’ve grown up, sweet girl.”
And I was left wondering when I last carried her inside into her warm bed filled with stuffed animals and blankets and snippets of her childhood that is passing faster than I know how to understand.
I couldn’t remember the last time.
And just like the words I read days prior, I, too, was left pondering how many times ahead I’ll have to say my final goodbye. I teared up for me and the other mamas across this globe who can no longer carry their babies because those babies are now grown girls and boys. I teared up for the mamas who no longer wash their kids’ hair, for the mamas who are watching their babies go through their final year of high school, for the mamas who are spending their first holiday season decorating the Christmas tree in an empty home.
I teared up for parents everywhere. And I teared up for me and the truth that I know is in my day to day life.
My girls are growing up. And no matter how many times I stop to take pause and soak it in, no matter how many moments I capture on video and in photos and through the written word, no matter how hard I try to prepare, the moments will pass.
They already have.
I don’t write this to remind you that time is fleeting. You already know.
I write this as a reminder that you’re not alone. We’re all in this journey together. And maybe that brings comfort in the bittersweet.
Whether you’ve welcomed your first child or you’re walking them down the aisle in a few short days, we’ve all had to say goodbye to one stage and welcome another. Some are marked with grand gestures and some come and go without notice.
But all are beautiful and worth every passing moment. You and I both know this.
And when you come across that moment, that poignant, painful moment – when your face smiles but your heart melts at the realization that yet another last has come and gone – please know, we’re with you. We’re all with you, bracing ourselves for the next goodbye.