How many moms have felt like their children’s childhood is slipping right through their fingers, dancing away in a blur of diapers and Legos and soccer games? We grasp at it, trying to hold it close and coerce it to linger just a little longer, but, in a slap-in-the-face reminder that we don’t control time, we blink, time laughs mockingly, and our babies grow up before our wondering eyes.
There are so many “lasts” throughout childhood. The last time we feel him kick before he’s born. The last time we nurse/feed our baby a bottle. The last time we rock her to sleep. The last time he needs help crossing the monkey bars. The last time they ask Mom to read a book or play a game. The last time Daddy has to check for monsters under the bed. On and on the list goes.
But, Mom whose baby is growing up too fast, let me assure you that, for every last, there’s a first. From the first smile to the first time that baby you raised into a confident child walks into school on his own with his head held high. From first steps to the first time she reads a whole book on her own. This list goes on and on, too.
It’s hard, though, to remember the joy of firsts in the face of the sorrow of a last. It’s too easy to become caught up in the grief and miss some of the firsts. Instead of noticing that our baby (because they really will always be our babies, won’t they?) has mastered something new, we miss it as we’re drowning in the grief that they have stopped doing something else. All of a sudden, we just notice that something has changed, and we can’t quite figure out when it became that way.
We talk about treasuring the moments and not wasting this precious and fleeting time, but I know that I’m guilty of being so sad that my little girl isn’t a baby anymore that I’ve wasted time when I could be soaking her up fretting over time gone by. I distinctly remember one occasion when I was so disappointed in a last that I forgot to rejoice in a first. When our first was a tiny infant she would do this thing with her lips where she bunched them up into a perfect O, but she was so tiny that that little O was the size of a Cheerio. We were enthralled, but her Cheerio Lips quickly transformed into a smile. Don’t get me wrong, we loved to see her smile, but I was heartbroken when I realized that she’d stopped doing the Cheerio thing. It was so silly! And I could share a hundred similar stories!
So Mommas whose babies are growing up too fast, will you join me in something? I’ve decided that spending too much time mourning these lasts is a waste, but I will waste time no more. Instead, I’m going to actually treasure the moments. I’ll always remember the baby days (and the toddler days and the preschool days and…) with love and fondness, but I’m done wasting time focusing on the bitter in the bittersweet.
Let’s help each other remember that there is so much to look forward to. That baby may not call you “Mommy” anymore, having traded it out for the much cooler “Mom,” but just think of all the years you have to be “Mom” to this boy or girl? Think of all the firsts that will happen in those years! Remember all the things you’re excited to share with your child and then do them! Over and over if you want! Take pictures and write memories in a journal or do whatever it is you do to preserve memories and live!
Above all, live.
Because, let’s be honest, moping about a child who’s growing up isn’t living. We don’t have to spend our entire motherhood running after a train that’s always just out of reach; we can ride the train and go to some of the most wondrous places. Let’s treasure the moments, and I mean to really treasure them by loving where we are, looking forward to where we’re going, and not spending all our time looking longingly backwards. I bet our children will be better off for it, too.
To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist; that is all. ~Oscar Wilde