I didn’t know lying there in that hotel room bed, the sound of the ocean blowing through the opened door, would be the first time I would hear you say, “I love you, Mama,” as you put your little hand there on my cheek as if to assure me it was true.
I didn’t know that early fall morning, watching you as you teetered around, one hand always holding onto the furniture for balance, would be the first time you’d let go and take three steps before toppling down.
I didn’t know that night, some 15 months after you were born, would finally be the first time you would sleep through the night, peaceful and serene there in your crib.
I didn’t know as we walked along together at the park, the heat blazing down on our shoulders, that it would be the first time you’d release my hand and hurry over to play with a friend instead.
I didn’t know when you came bounding down the steps in a pink, polka-dot skirt and bright red shirt, a smile stretching from ear to ear, that it would be the first time you’d get completely dressed all by yourself.
No, I didn’t know it would be the first time.
I didn’t know that night, as we rocked back and forth in that cozy, worn rocker that it would be the last time I rocked you to sleep.
I didn’t know, as the moon lifted higher into the sky, that when your paci fell from your pursed little lips it would be the last time you soothed yourself to sleep in this way.
I didn’t know as I held that bottle to your mouth, your body close to my heart, and peered down into your sleepy little eyes, that this would be the last time I’d give you this bottle.
I didn’t know as we held hands crossing the street that day it would be the last time we’d do this without you wanting to pull away with a dramatic sigh.
I didn’t know as I pulled the covers up to your chin, smoothed your hair and laid down beside you, that this would be the last time you’d need me to lay down with you before bed.
No, I didn’t know it would be the last time.
There’s so much I didn’t know. Had I known I would have tried to prepare myself more, both for the firsts and for the lasts. But perhaps it’s best we don’t know. After all, the heart can only take so much knowing.
I didn’t know when you made me a mama that it would be the first time my heart would feel a depth of love unending, and I didn’t know it would be the last time my heart would be my very own.