My youngest just turned six.

She was the child who was never meant to be after doctors said she probably never could be. She certainly wasn’t planned. She was supposed to be the boy her brother was hoping for. She helped mend a broken marriage that needed her. She was the missing piece in a now puzzle of four kids. She made us a family of six—until we weren’t anymore. She was the last bit of legacy created with a man taken too soon from me.

I am trying to heed the warnings of those seasoned moms who keep telling me, “enjoy it, it goes fast.” So I look at her, watch her play and most days find myself squeezing her so tightly she can’t wriggle free. I’m trying to keep her this way. I’m begging time to let 6 stay just a little bit longer.

Because six is letting mommy hold you on her lap even though you are getting too big.

Six is dragging Corduroy the teddy bear around everywhere you go.

Six is giggles.

Six is delighting in notes from the Tooth Fairy.

Six is believing in so much beauty and loveliness in the world.

Six is worried about ghosts and hides her eyes under blankets at the scary parts.

Six is happy with Goldfish snacks and peanut butter sandwiches.

Six is writing your Js backwards

Six can be whiny.

Six can be endless chatter.

Six is laying in the grass seeing shapes in the clouds.

Six isn’t grossed out picking up roly poly bugs.

Six is sleeping with pink dollie every night.

Six is innocent bliss.

But no matter how tightly you hold, six will never stay.

Andrea Remke

Andrea Remke is a recent transplant to Arizona after having lived in Kentucky for 20 years. She has a degree in communications and journalism from Saint Mary's College, South Bend, Ind. She is a widowed mother of a 13-year-old, twin 10-year-olds, and an 8-year-old. She is a freelance writer at Find her on Facebook and Twitter.