I tried to slow you down–my fourth baby. I postponed swim lessons for the big kids, I held back from volunteering and from co-ops and from busyness in general, all in favor of long rocking sessions with you. I thought that, maybe, if we had more time to just enjoy you, the baby stage might last a little longer. If I took a thousand pictures each day of your cute little baby toes, they might not grow so fast.
Maybe if I slowed down, you would too.
And yet here you are now, at eight months old, crawling and pulling yourself up and making your opinions known to all the world. Your legs are too long for your 12-month sleeper jammies, and you’re more interested in real food than Mommy. You tremble with excitement when your big siblings run by—you’re aching to catch up with them, I know.
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You were our surprise baby, our extra blessing. I had just got used to the idea of having a baby again, and already you’ve almost outgrown the title. Every time I pick you up, you’re a little bit heavier. Before I know it, you’ll outgrow the baby carrier and the infant car seat, and you’ll be a toddler.
I tried to slow you down, too, my oldest girl.
The one who made me a mommy. Your daddy and I have tried to make home the coolest place ever–between the animals and the art supplies and the books, books, books–hoping that the coolest kid ever might be content to be here. We’ve encouraged dolls and outdoor play, friends and treehouses, knowing that you only have one childhood, and hoping to make it last. Maybe if we all embrace a simple life, you’ll be content to be a kid for just a little longer.
And yet here you are—12 years old already. You’re closer to adulthood than you are to babyhood. We can sometimes raid each other’s closets. The car I drive now might be the one you learn to drive in. You’re old enough to cook a meal, to help mend fences when your friends start bickering, and to have your own prayer life and walk with God.
You walk up behind me while I’m cooking. For a minute I keep on stirring, and I wonder, who is this young lady in my kitchen? Then I turn around and see it’s you. The one I rocked in our apartment long ago–and rocked, and rocked, and rocked. If I close my eyes I can still smell your baby smell, and that rocking chair doesn’t feel so far away.
For a minute I feel a little sad.
They weren’t kidding when they said it goes by fast.
I tried all the tactics the experts have mentioned–those tricks they said would help me enjoy it, help us enjoy your childhood. Live in the moment, they said. And I tried. But the time passed anyway.
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That’s the funny thing about time. It doesn’t bend to my will, and neither do you. I thought if I let go of other things in my life, if I pushed the pause button on some of my own ideas, that time would be good to me and slow down.
But I can’t make time behave, I can’t make it slow down, and I can’t make you stop growing.
But when I watch you pick up the crying baby and kiss him on the head, I realize I don’t want to. I see you becoming a young lady in a million little ways, and I don’t want to stop your growth. You are blooming in your own time, like a field of sunflowers, only so much more beautiful. And the same God who made those flowers to bloom in their time, and made the sun to rise and set each day, and made each season to come in its turn, made you. He has plans for you, good plans. They are unfolding like a story, one chapter at a time.
So I know that all my babies will keep on growing, and I pray that as you grow, you turn your faces toward the sun, like those flowers. I pray you look toward the One who loves you best and ask Him, “What’s next?”
I may not be able to predict all your story holds. But I do know one thing: I can’t wait to read it.