I hear my husband say, “Hey buddy. Why are you out of bed?” and I selfishly groan inside. I was just rejoicing in silence while my husband did the dishes, grateful that all 3 kids were in bed.
I thought to myself, The other two never did this. As I got up and scooped up the 3 year old in his spiderman pjs he says “I just wanted to wake up” in his tiny voice. “But it’s dark outside.” I tell him. “It’s time to go to sleep.” He squeezes me tight, and my bones are tired. I take him to the potty and walk him back to his room. “I’ll lay down with you for a minute.”
He strokes my hair at first, and then starts yanking on the hairs at the base of my neck. “Just stop wiggling, buddy.” He says, “OK.” and turns his back to me. While we lay there together I relish in the moment. My baby is growing up. I think about how he just learned to use the potty. And I realize that I have no more kids in diapers and I think, How did I get here so fast?
In the dark, I think about the fact that I’m suddenly entering a new phase of parenting. My kids are getting bigger. Their firsts are fading into lasts. The first word. The first step. The first smile. One day there won’t be anymore of those kinds of firsts. My last kid is flying through life at rapid speed, and all of his firsts are my lasts. My last time experiencing one of my children experiencing his first. It’s bittersweet.
I don’t need to pack diapers anymore, and rarely lug around a stroller. Everything is shifting, and slipping, and changing. Remember this moment, I tell myself as his little body gets still and quiet.
Last week was supposed to be his first week of preschool. It would have been my last time having a kid go to his very first day of school. But, he got sick. And, I wasn’t sad that he missed it. In fact, I was happy because I don’t have to feel sad that my baby is starting school yet. But now next week will be his first time ever going to school, and it will be my last time watching one of my kids have their first day of school. Their firsts will all become my lasts eventually.
I know my kids are still little and there are still lots of firsts. They still require help with almost everything and each morning that I wake up, they are a tiny bit older. I try not to forget that, but it’s impossible. Their firsts are changing into harder things that aren’t as simple, or as noticeable as the first time they rolled over. But, it’s miraculous to me that I get to witness any of it.
I’m lucky. I get to be there for all the firsts.
But, sometimes I still forget. I take it for granted, and I wish for time to speed up. As the days fly by faster, and I get a little older, I don’t wish for that as often. Instead I remind myself more and more that it won’t last forever. I don’t appreciate every moment. That’s unrealistic. But, I do not take it for granted like I used to.
And, I try not to beat myself up about the days that I wish would just end already. There are still many of those days. But, there is something to this aging thing. Almost every day brings a moment of realization that time is moving swiftly. And it usually happens in the everyday moments that I’m not expecting. Like when I end up in a twin sized bed spooning a wiggly toddler until he falls asleep.
As quickly as I’m learning to appreciate my children more, I’m learning that life is too short to tear myself down for not doing it some days. More gratitude needs to be practiced, but so does gentleness with myself.
Forgiving myself quickly for a bad day is its own sort of first for me. Reminding myself to enjoy a moment doesn’t always come naturally, but I work on it, and then one day it happens.
And I realize that my firsts as I grow into motherhood are just as precious as theirs. The firsts and lasts are part of every day life that I might take for granted. But I don’t. At least I try not to. I see it. And even though I may not always say it out loud, I know the firsts and lasts are everything. For all of us.