There has never been a longer walk than the one I just made from my baby’s kindergarten class to our minivan in the back of the parking lot. Michael has asked me to please stop calling him a baby, and I cannot. My mom still calls me her baby, and so I have resolved that my babies are my babies forever.
Last night Zachary said he wasn’t ready to go to kindergarten. I almost told him he didn’t have to. I almost quit my job. I almost decided to have another baby. The boys suggested it the other day, and I thought about what it feels like to pick up a new born and watch them squirm and stretch and then nestle back into my chest and stomach and then look up at me with reassured eyes and how that is the most exhilarating feeling in all the world and how I cherished every snuggle I was afforded in those early days.
And then I thought about how those early days were eternal days that never ever ended and how I thought everyone who said ‘they are growing so fast!’ was a lunatic because no they weren’t. They were growing so slowly, and I was feeling every single millisecond of their growth because I was with them always and they were so needy and so dependent and so loud and so messy. All I ever did was wipe things. Ever.
The night we brought Zachary home from the hospital was the longest night. He cried all night long. We couldn’t figure each other out, and so I woke up my husband. I almost made him take us back to the hospital because I thought something cannot be okay with a baby that cries this much. A baby’s cry unsettles me to my innermost being and there is no other focus until the baby is pacified. It was the longest night in the history of the world.
That was five seconds ago.
It was a blink. You were right and you are not lunatics.
And that is the reason I felt compelled to help a mama in Wal-Mart last week. I was picking something up for work. In my work clothes. With no children. She had a baby strapped to her chest, a toddler licking things from the ‘please touch me’ section of the checkout aisle, and an older child who was attempting to help, but making more work for the mom in the meantime. I had been her. And I sensed she had been me, once in the professional world but taking a moment to embrace this other parallel universe. I walked over and asked if I could please load the bags in her cart, as she was struggling to work around the baby carrier and give commands to the licking toddler. She looked relieved and grateful and almost in tears. And I said it before I thought about it.
‘It goes by so fast.’
And she probably thought, ‘No it doesn’t you crazy working mom who got a shower and peaceful drive to work this morning.’
But it does. It is a blink. The early years of motherhood are quick and painful. They are joy and sorrow and struggle and fun and long and fulfilling and exhilarating and endless and so so so so so very fast.
When I woke Zachary up this morning (he was on the floor because he occasionally insists that it is more comfortable than his bed), he asked me to hold him for a minute. As I cradled his long heavy body in my overwhelmed arms, I prayed a prayer of thanksgiving for the gift of his sweet childhood. Of his innocence. Of his babyhood. Of his potential and possibility. Of his soft skin and his blue eyes and his telling smile.
And I whispered in my mind, because the words wouldn’t come:
‘I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.’
(Quote taken from: Munsch, R. N., & McGraw, S. (n.d.). Love you forever.)