Yesterday I was a mother of a newborn baby. I cuddled her on my chest. Felt her breathing on my neck. Smelled her head. Closed my eyes and sighed with happiness at how incredible and new she was.
Then I opened my eyes. And I found myself a mother of a child. Suddenly she has grown into a long-limbed beauty with freckles sprinkled across her nose and gaps in her mouth where her tiny teeth used to be. She tells jokes and I laugh. She proudly waves her school work in front of my face and I am impressed by how smart she is. She walks like a child, not a toddler. Says big words. Hears everything her Dad and I say to each other. Has no traces of baby fat. And sometimes, I catch a glimpse of her and she looks like she’s 17-years old.
It was only yesterday when I knew first-hand how incredible and hard it was to have a newborn. To wake every 45 minutes at night to feed. To change poop explosions. To try and navigate brand new territory, all bleary-eyed and confused. I would weep and weep because I couldn’t calm her when she cried. Because I was so tired.
I still weep. Now, it’s when I think about her growing up too quickly. It’s physical—this desire to hold onto her childhood. Her innocence. I ache with the need to capture everything she’s doing and remember every detail.
The days and weeks and seasons rush by and I long to mentally catalogue every little thing. When she started talking. The first time she rode a bike without training wheels. The vacation we took to the beach—and how she rolled in the sand and laughed and laughed.
I feel so disappointed in myself when I can’t remember it all. When my brain fills up with appointments and after-school activities and getting laundry done and doing a good job at work.
But then I remember that I’m only human and it’s impossible to live in the moment when you’re constantly worried about forgetting anything from the past.
Then I remember that I am here.
And this is where I should be.
This is the stage of life we’re in—busy parents with kids growing rapidly right before our eyes. Fighting through the long, exhausting, maddening days when they’re so young. Trying not to roll our eyes when elder people tell us to enjoy every last minute as our children meltdown in the grocery store.
And before we know it, they won’t be chubby toddlers any longer. We will blink and find tall, interesting, moody, funny humans standing before us. And then we will blink again and they will be teenagers. Lanky and lean, even moodier and yearning for independence.
It’s clichéd, but it’s true that it happens just like that. You can’t hold onto their small little bodies and their fresh newborn smell forever. You won’t always kiss boo-boos and wipe tears off of chubby toddler cheeks. You will find yourself one day talking about emotions and bodies. You will find yourself laughing together—a teensy bit less like a parent and more like a friend. You will grab h old of their hands and feel long, thin fingers wrapped between yours.
You will think “It was only yesterday” that they were yours. But then you will let today go and welcome tomorrow. Because now they are growing into new, incredible little amazing beings.
And they too are where they should be.