I could tell by the grin on her face that she wasn’t sick or sad, just needing to be held by mom.
We were in the kitchen, and I was loading the dishwasher, up to my elbows in last night’s dinner.
There were a million reasons why I couldn’t pick her up just then. My hands were all wet, and I was just trying to get through the job that one of the boys was going to do – but had forgotten about – the night before. There were other chores to do too, and limited time to do them, before we had to leave for gymnastics later in the day. I was tired, having been up most of the night, and more than a little grumpy. Finally, my shoulder was screaming at me just from moving the heavy ceramic dishes, and I knew I shouldn’t really be lifting anything at the moment, let alone a solid 45-pound little girl.
I thought of the conversation we’d had earlier that morning. We’d been laying and laughing in bed, enjoying those few minutes of Mommy/Tegan time before we get up and the day gets away from us. She made a comment about always having to go to the bathroom when she first woke up, which segued into a discussion about babies and diapers and potty training. She’s been asking lots of questions lately about the babyhood she’s shedding behind her.
And I realized as we chatted that it’s been over a year since she’s worn a diaper, even at night.
I can’t remember the last time she nursed.
She hasn’t picked up a binky, which was a favorite companion, in years.
She suddenly chooses to sleep in her own bed just as often as ours.
In short, our baby is growing up. She’s a busy, active, beautiful, spunky four year old. And while I enjoy our relationship now more than ever, I mourn for the fact that an entire season in my life as a mom is over. For the past fifteen years I’ve been pregnant and/or nursing. For fifteen years, I was holding, and wearing, and rocking, and feeding one of my babies. And now I’m not.
It’s one of the biggest cliches of parenting, except…. it’s not a cliche. It’s truth. That time goes so fast. So fast! One minute you’re a 23 year old meeting the tiny 5 pound little person who would first make you a mom, and the next, you’re standing in the kitchen with your four-year old daughter. Your FOURTH child. Who’s asking to be held. And both the gratefulness of having been blessed with all those years and the sadness that they’re over engulf you all at once. They threaten to take your breath away.
I dry my hands on a kitchen towel. The girl squeals happily as I scoop her up, hurt shoulder be damned.
I held her for as long as she wanted, until she asked to be put back down to go off on her next adventure. Was it 5 minutes? 20? I lost all track of time, swept up in the fleeting moment of having my baby in my arms once again.
And just like that, it’s over. She’s run to the other room, her moment of needing mom already a thing of the past. I turn back to the dishes, and those big ceramic plates suddenly aren’t so heavy anymore.