TJ will be 2.5 years next month. Yes, my little boy whom I can still remember holding as a newborn, is going to be two-and-a-half years old!!! My other little one, my munchmuffin will turn 4 months this week…the kids are growing up and every day, I feel just a little bit nostalgic for what has gone by and also excited for what is yet to come.
I can’t help having this very painful tug in my heart…a powerful knot of emotions every time I think of the last time I will be doing things for and with my children. I am getting teary eyed just typing these words. There are as many firsts in a parent’s life as there are in a child’s. Perhaps more. I remember the first time I held TJ and Baby E, I remember their baby smell, Baby E adding to the memory recollection; I remember a nurse at Chicago’s Prentice Women’s Hospital teaching us nervous first time parents how to swaddle and I remember expertly swaddling Baby E like I had done it all my life, as if the two years in between had never happened.
I remember Baby J’s newborn tummy issues like yesterday. I remember the four hours delay on the tarmac on our way to Seattle for my conference – our first time with Baby J who was not even three months old then. I remember wearing him in my Ergobaby while presenting at that conference and rocking him to sleep simultaneously. I remember the TWELVE hours delay at the Seattle airport on our way back and being stuck there all those hours and breastfeeding in public for the first time. I remember his first Halloween, his first steps, his first international trip, his first time meeting with his great grandmothers, a blessing Baby E will never know with them having passed away within months of each other a few months ago. I remember his first tentative, then, more assertive steps.
I remember the last time I breastfed Baby J. We switched to formula exclusively after that. I remember the last time I swaddled Babies J and E. We switched to sleep sacks after that.
I remember his first big fever. I remember calling the nurses’ hotline for instantly gratifying solutions of which there were none. I especially remember this because even though we didn’t know it then, the night before would be the last time we would be using a sleep sack.
I remember the last few times TJ fell asleep in my arms for his naps. I sleep trained him to fall asleep on his own after that because I was in the late stages of my pregnancy and could no longer carry and put him in his crib. I remember his first time at an aquarium, at a beach, at a planetarium, his first words, his first day at daycare…I remember. I remember. I remember.
Point is, I have been remembering these “memories” (in quotes because they only happened in the past year or two and yet, they are already a part of my child’s past, history) a lot lately.
I sometimes feel like I am trying to hold sand in the cup of my palm but sand being sand, is just slipping away from between my fingers. My children’s childhood is like that. It’s just slipping away and I am completely and hopelessly unable to seize, capture, and freeze every moment and every memory of my children’s young lives. Not that I want to do that. I want them to bloom and grow and go on to make more memories and yet, I cannot seem to want to let go off these memories.
I know I don’t have to. They will forever be tucked away in the warmth of my soul. Still, seeing my little ones grow up makes me long for those early days even as I am glad they are behind us.
Every time TJ utters a new word, which is every day these days; every time he fights to exert his newly acquired independent skill; every time I see him sit by himself pretending to read a book; every time he chooses his own clothes; puts on his own shoes… I feel a little tear forming in the curved corner of my heart.
For each of these times, thankfully, there are times when he only wants mommy;
when he slobbers me with countless kisses and many unexpected hugs;
when he insists on sitting on the counter while I cook;
when he wants to do all the pouring for my baking adventures;
when he wants to water the plants with me;
when he allows me to kiss his belly and I get to hear the sweet sounds of his giggles and the musical notes of his careless laughter;
when he gets chased around the living room couch by daddy and he, laughing and screaming, runs into the kitchen where I usually am, to hug my knees;
when he wants me to carry him up the stairs because he is too tired;
when he still lets me feed him;
when he holds my hand to cross the street or a parking lot;
when he hugs himself to mean that he wants me to read or narrate the story of the book, ‘Guess how much I love you’….
…I say a silent prayer thanking my lucky stars that my child is still a child in so many ways. This is not going to last forever and I am trying to appreciate and savor every moment with him.
This savoring is sometimes made challenging with the frequent, unreasonable, and random tantrums that are the norm these days. Taking deep breaths, simply pushing a mental pause and then reconnecting, and telling myself that this is just another phase of his life that won’t last forever has helped me appreciate the trying moments for what they are and gain perspective.
For now, I want to continue to give him wings so he can fly and whether he turns 2.5 years or 25, I’ll be right here – now and always, cherishing those memories of the past and busy making new ones.