I was prepared for the firsts but not the lasts.
I read a similar phrase a while ago and it struck such a chord with me when I think about my journey in motherhood so far.
I have always looked forward to the firsts. First cry, first smile, first full night of sleep (praise the Lord). First roll over, first bite of food, first tooth. These are all things I anticipate and know to prepare for, and we celebrate each time there is a milestone moment.
During this time of staying at home, Vi reached a pretty big milestone: she crawled for the first time!
We knew she had been getting super close. She had been lifting her body up in push-up position for a while. Then she was pushing up to her hands and knees and rocking back and forth. It was only a matter of time before she figured out the mechanics of crawling, and Justin and I watched eagerly, cheering her on (kind of makes up for no sports on TV? 😉 ).
Then, this past Friday afternoon after Justin got home, I set her down on the floor and put the remote (her favorite thing) on the floor in front of her…and she slowly army crawled to it! It was such an awesome moment for Justin and I to witness together and we were so excited to celebrate this milestone in our daughter’s life. She’s getting so big!
For all that I look forward to the firsts, I don’t always anticipate the lasts.
The lasts are bittersweet. While I am so very thankful for continued growth and development, sometimes it’s a little heartbreaking to see my child leave another piece of babyhood behind. And one of those big moments happened in this quarantine too.
I’ve talked before about LJ’s deep love for the pacifier. Weaning him from the pacifier was a milestone we planned for and anticipated, so that “last” was a little easier to prepare for. However, once we snipped off the end of his beloved wubbanub, he still continued to sleep with the stuffed animal part, an elephant affectionately known as Edgar, as well as two little lovies with bear heads. Every night, he wanted them tucked in his arms and every morning, he insisted on bringing “Edgie bears” (Edgar and the bears) with him. He carried them around everywhere. He looked for them to take to nap time, and smiled and laughed when he found them. He woke up and wouldn’t let us leave his bedroom without retrieving them from the crib. It seemed wherever LJ went, “Edgie bears” needed to come too.
Over time, he has been leaving them in the crib more and more. He stopped asking for them to come with him. He stopped insisting on making sure they were all three with him before he fell asleep. He didn’t need lovies tucked under each arm to fall asleep anymore. It happened slowly over time – sometimes he still wanted them and other times he didn’t – so it was easy to not really notice the gradual changes.
Then, one day in quarantine, I realized he is totally past this milestone. He no longer asks for them at all anymore. And even if he did ask for them, his speech has improved to the point where it wouldn’t sound like “Ed-gee bears” anymore. Such a big part of his life for so long . . . and now we moved past it and I don’t even know when the “last” time was. I didn’t know when it was happening, I only know now that it has. And just like that, my sweet little boy is a little bit bigger.
I knew to prepare for the firsts. I did not know to prepare for the lasts.
Even though I’m a stay-at-home mom, this time in quarantine has given me more time than ever with my children. I’m not going to my women’s group, so they’re not going to childcare. We’re not going to church, so they’re not going to nursery/Sunday School. Justin and I aren’t going out for date nights, so they’re not staying with a babysitter. There’s no visits with grandparents, no playdates with friends. We are together every day, all day long. And though the days are long, I know that the years are short.
While this time in quarantine can be exhausting and difficult, it is also a gift. It is the gift of time to enjoy their littleness right now. They are growing and changing subtly every day. I guess this long and rambling post is my way of reflecting during this time – a way to get all my thoughts out and remember the complex feelings of motherhood right now. I can’t wait for the day when life goes back to “normal,” yet while we’re here in this strange new normal, I’m choosing deep gratitude for the extra time I have to soak up each of my kids’ unique personalities right now. It won’t be long before they’re on to the next stage, and I’ve accepted that my mama heart will always straddle the line of bittersweet thankfulness for that. ❤