Just when you least expect it, it hits you: that overwhelming wave of nostalgia. Just today, as I was changing loads of laundry, I held my third son’s beloved blankie, and instantly remembered the day he was born.
Perhaps the nostalgia comes from the fact that today is my daughter’s first birthday. One year ago right now, my husband and I were anxiously awaiting her arrival in a hospital room, full of joy. It doesn’t seem right that it’s been a year already. I remember holding her tiny little body for the first time, tears streaming down my cheeks as I exhaustedly muttered, “Well, I’ve been waiting a long time to meet you, my little princess!” I remember handing her to my husband, and watching his proud daddy look melt into a different kind of love. I remember thinking that he looked different gazing at her than when he first beheld each of our boys. I remember bringing her home to a house full of love, with little boys begging to hold their sister. I remember changing her clothes way too often because I wanted to play dress up with a little girl.
And now, that little girl is walking, and talking, and drinking from a cup, and waving bye-bye…and I just am not ready for her to grow up.
Just this past weekend, my husband and I were able to get away for a night…the first time since we became parents! It was wonderful! But I’d be lying if I said that there wasn’t a little bit of sad mixed in there. Our two oldest boys, 6 and 4, have never slept away from home without us. And there they were, with their two best friends, hugging our legs and waving us away. We watched as they ran with their friends, farther and farther away, and I thought to myself, surely, they are still too little to have friends…to have a sleepover…to start making those amazing childhood memories that include others besides ourselves. They had the time of their lives. They played in mud, collected rocks, built a tent, and ran around playing soccer.
But I wasn’t expecting them to grow up this fast. They are reading, writing, understanding jokes, developing skills and confidently using their talents…and I just was not expecting this to happen so soon.
As I put my two-year-old son’s blankie into the dryer this morning, I got misty eyed. I remember when he first decided, in his baby mind, that this was his blankie. It was back in the day when I was still nursing him and rocking him to sleep. It was when he was my baby, no younger sibling. It was when he preferred playing with me than to his brothers. It was before the days when he wrestled with the boys and daddy, before the days when he thought burping was funny, and before the days when he had a pajama preference. And though I was tired, overwhelmed at times, and genuinely worn out as a mom of three young boys, I cherish those days of innocence.
Last night, I kissed that little 2-year-old boy as I placed him in a big boy bed. He has grown up faster than the rest. He wants to be just like his brothers, and so he’s said goodbye to his crib, his sippy cups, and his baby toys. I didn’t realize that seasons were changing until they changed. My baby boy has turned into a walking, talking, cup drinking, big-boy-bed sleeping, soccer ball kicking kid. And I just wasn’t ready for that.
These days of mothering get hard. Wait. That’s an understatement. There are days when I literally say out loud “Help me Lord! Or else I might explode!” In fact, just this morning, I was doing the laundry because my kids are sick…again…and yes, they “sicked” all over their beds in the middle of the night. Today was particularly challenging, but I realize that these moments are fleeting. The busyness of young children carry us…no, push us into the very next moment before we are ready for it. Even in the craziness, even in the busyness, even in the “sicked” laundry, there are beautiful moments that amount to nothing more than gifts. I get the privilege of watching these little princes and this little princess grow and become who they were intended to be. The tantrums, the laundry, the diapers, the sleepless nights are par for the course.
I probably will want to cry again sometime soon…maybe even today! I probably will get so overwhelmed that I have to stop and pray. And that’s o.k. Everything that is worth something requires those moments. And there is nothing else worth more to me than my family.
I am so thankful for that little Winnie the Pooh blankie, washed and dried and fresh again. It is a reminder that though my little guy’s said sayonara to sippy cups, he still has many years to grow. And though I am not ready, I do love watching the process unfold. I do love watching my kids make friends and discover who they are. There is no greater gift than watching God’s hand on your child’s life. I just pray that I stop in the middle of all the busyness to keep watching.
“Teach me how to number my days that I might gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12