Baby is growing up: A virtual time machine of memories
My baby is growing up. He’s turning 3 very soon. He just learned (on his own, because my heart couldn’t handle correcting him on this one) to say “I want you to hold me” instead of gazing at me with those deep brown eyes and saying “I want to hold you.” Every time he has said those words to me over the past year, I’ve had a flood of invisible, keep-it-together, don’t-fall-apart-as-your-heart-melts kind of emotion. I thought,
“I want to hold you, too, baby. Forever. I know you’re growing each day, saying more “I do it myself, Mommy” and learning new things, and I love that. But you’re my last baby, so I’d appreciate it if you could stay baby-ish a while longer. If not in size and the way you think about the world, at least in your willingness to snuggle and to need me. Because I need you.”
Why is it so hard to see our babies grow up? I don’t want to say it’s bittersweet, because it’s really mostly sweet and delicious and glorious and fulfilling. But it’s also really hard. Hard to know that the crib that appeared in your house as you prepared to become a mommy will someday not be needed at all, that those chances to nibble on tiny toes during even the messiest diaper changes will become a thing of the past and that those toes might someday be stinky and sweaty from a day of running in the mud. That those embraces, where baby’s face is so close to your own that you could breathe in his innocence and his sweetness and you can actually taste the love between you and your son — those, too, will someday disappear. No wonder we want to hold on a little longer. No wonder I find myself and my friends saying “slow down, time.”
Finding balance as a working mom has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever faced. I was lucky enough to secure a part-time arrangement with my company for the first several years after having my first son. I spent one weekday at home with my kids, reading in the early morning sunlight (actually, often before sunrise!), making up songs while pushing the stroller around the block, taking a Mommy and Me music class, playing with friends. I was so grateful to be able to have a day off with my sons each week. But even with that, time has passed too quickly. I’ve always tried to make the most of the saying that it’s the quality of time, not the quantity that matters, trying to be 100% with my kids when I’m with them. So why does my heart ache so bad now that my final baby is turning 3? I have polled my stay-at-home-mom friends, and they feel the same way as they watch their babies grow. So, it’s not that I missed all those baby days by working. It’s that I miss them.
I admit it makes me cry to think of those special days of the past. I had laughed when my mom said “It’s a very special time,” when I had my first son. I wasn’t laughing at the sentiment, but at the inability of words to properly express the depth of love and emotion and amazement that occurs in those very special first few years of motherhood (and which, I’m certain, will continue for all future years, too). I cry now for how beautiful and simple they were despite the complete lack of sleep and the constant challenge of everything being new. I miss the state of discovery as I learned about myself as a woman, a wife, a mother and as baby discovered shadows and sounds and tastes and textures. But I remember them. I remember them vibrantly, and I have tucked them in my mental video vault to replay over and over. That memory vault will never get full. It’s my virtual time machine since, so far anyway, we haven’t figured out a way to slow down time.
Am I sad that my final baby is turning 3? Yes and no. I’m excited for him and for the adventures that lie ahead. I’m proud of all of his accomplishments, big and small (He ate a whole grilled cheese sandwich today! Exciting! He peed in the potty! Woo hoo! He asked for a tissue after he picked his nose! Progress!). And I can’t wait to see how he and his older brothers continue to bounce off the walls and wrestle each other as I yell “Gentle! Careful!”
I’ve learned that no matter how often I try to watch the present in slow motion, it still becomes the past. So I’m going to keep watching, keep remembering, keep filling that vault so I can watch a replay whenever I want, while making sure I am present in today, creating these memories with my boys.
Happy Birthday, sweet Baby D.