This morning at the breakfast table my three-year-old asked, “Am I going to stay little?” We had been getting her older brother ready for preschool and making plans for what we would do while he was away. Her question entered my ears and hit my heart.
“No,” I responded with tears in my eyes, “You will grow up.”
My daughter smiled, satisfied with my answer. I asked her “Do you want to stay little or do you want to grow up?” She responded “I want to grow up like a mama.” And then, pointing her chubby forefinger at me “I want to be like you.”
Again, her words hit me in the heart.
Then came all the thoughts, all at once. She wants to be like me. What kind of example am I? Do I want her to be the kind of mama I am or are there some things I need to change? And of all the thoughts jumbling in my head, this one was strongest: She won’t be little forever.
There are moments these days when I look forward with anticipation to clean floors without crumbs and spills and legos strewn about. There are moments when I would trade the high-pitched squeals for more mature, subdued voices. There are moments when I wish the “me-time” I savor during naps could stretch on for several more hours. And there are mornings I feel like I would sell an arm or leg to have a solid night’s sleep with no little bodies in bed with me.
Someday all of those visions will be reality. But this morning, I am thinking about the things I love that will be traded out for the convenience I often long for. No more unprompted “Fank you foh dis beautifoh dinnoh” at meals where drinks are spilled and food splattered. No more endearing chipmunk voice, no more meeting all her needs with a simple snack or nap or hug. When these kids are grown I will surely be getting a lot more sleep, but a lot less snuggles; a lot more time to myself, but a lot less one-on-one with these favorite people of mine.
I feel a deep desire to soak up these days and moments we have together—through the exhaustion and sleepless nights and food all over the place and breaking up kid-fights. I want to savor this unique time in our lives when our home is our world, a world where the worst thing this girl can imagine is a “bad-guy baby coming in a sucking on all our pacifiers.” I want to slurp up the simplicity of our days, the sacred beauty of this season wherein I stand as a buffer between them and the harsh world, able for a short time to mitigate the hurts they feel. Because this time will end, and when it does it will feel too soon. I want the magic of this place and of the life we are building here to last in my heart and in the hearts of my children forever, for the memories we make to live in and sustain us all. But I also want to enjoy these days fully, now in the present, before they are days I look back on with yearning—before they are memories.