Yesterday I held you.

I smiled as I watched your eyes fluttering like butterfly wings, as you finally surrendered and gave in to sleep. I saw you grin as you began to dream about all the lovely things babies dream about. You fell into a sweet, deep sleep and I considered carefully placing you in your crib, but I held you. I held you because I couldn’t believe you were really mine and because I couldn’t get enough of you. Holding you made every one of the years I waited for you seem like a minute.

You were perfect.

The moment was perfect.

I stared at your sweet face because I wanted to take in every single detail. I knew these were the moments everyone had warned would be fleeting, but your days of independence seemed so far away, almost as if they would never come.

I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and remembered this moment.

Today I looked at you.

My gentle newborn baby had been replaced with a wild, spunky little boy, who seemed ready to take on the world. But that couldn’t be right because I’m sure it was just yesterday that I held you. I watched as you leaped off the couch and sprinted into another room, begging your little brother to come chase after you. You laughed and he giggled as you slowed down to let him catch you. I smiled as you wrapped your arms around his neck, pressed your nose against his nose, and talked to him in the “baby” voice that you reserve only for him.

You were both perfect.

I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and remembered the moment.

And then it hit me.

These moments may come less frequently in the future. Not because of a shortage of love between you and your brother, but because in a few short weeks you’ll be spending part of your day away from home.

Away from me.

And my heart and my mind aren’t really sure what to think about that.

Today, I’m holding back tears thinking that this is just the first step of learning for both of us. You’ll be learning to navigate an unfamiliar world without Mom and Dad and I’ll be learning to let go. I’m confident you’ll get there long before I will, if I ever do. My heart is telling me to hold on tighter, as if holding on tight enough will somehow change the outcome. My mind is telling me that the day is coming even if I’m not ready to accept it, and that when it does come, it will make those weeks feel like a second.

That’s the thing about watching you grow up. No matter how intentional I’ve been about cherishing the moments and no matter how much I’ve begged my mind to remember every detail, it’s all seemed like a blur. A big, beautiful blur. The days of independence I believed were so far in the future have become our present, and as my heart is telling me to hold tighter, my mind is telling me that you’re ready.

You’re ready and I’m not. If I’m being completely honest, I need you to want me to leave when I drop you off in the classroom for your first day. If you want me to leave, I know you’re not scared. If you’re not scared, I won’t feel like I’m abandoning you when I have to go.

Because I would never abandon you.

We’ll take one day at a time, together, like we always have. Some days will be exciting, some will be overwhelming, some will be fun and some will be hard. No matter what emotion you’re feeling or if you’re feeling them all at once, and no matter how old or how big you get, one thing will never change:

My arms will be here to hold you.

Just like I did yesterday.

Lindsay Stauffer

Lindsay is married to the most supportive husband in the world and momma to two adorable rascals, who have turned her into a caffeine addict. She writes about marriage and motherhood on her Facebook page, Life Off The Record.