For the last time...
All the times I tried to remember the "firsts," I've forgotten about the lasts.
"For the last time, would you please stop pushing your sister down?" or "for the last time, can you please put some clothes on!?"
Tonight, Little Miss asked for a snack before bed. Then, she needed all her stuffies in bed with her. And then she had to go potty. It went on and on, as she procrastinated going to sleep. All the while I was making a mental list of things I wanted to do after she was asleep. Things I put off doing while they are awake, so we can play and have fun.
But then she asks for a story. And then another. And she snuggled down under the covers and held my hand. She closed her eyes and asked for her princess lullabies (a medley of Disney songs I made up years ago as a way to comfort her). I felt her body settle into the bed and her breathing get heavy - a tell-tale sign that she was asleep. I anxiously awaited the perfect moment to make my stealthy escape from her room, but just as I thought my time had arrived, she rolled over and snuggled onto my arm like a teddy bear. Despite my all-too recent desire to tiptoe away, I laid there.
And in that very moment, I had one of those rare cherished snippets of motherhood that made my whole to-do list fade away. My arm started to go numb, and I felt the heat radiate off my sweet little girl that made me want to melt. But the dishes could wait. The laundry could wait. And everything else could wait.
There will be a last time that I sing lullabies while she dozes off. All the times I wished I could breeze through our lengthy bedtime routine will be a drop in the bucket compared to the ocean of yearning I have to get just a peace of that stillness back. I'll find myself regretting all the times I left her room when all she wanted was "one more story." It won't matter that I laid on 2 inches of mattress while she (and all her babies) took up an entire full-size bed.
It will all be too late.
Because in that moment, it occurred to me that while I was so careful to be there and remember the "firsts" of my girls, I let the "lasts" disappear without second thought. I took pictures and videos of first steps, first time singing a nursery rhyme, first time kicking a soccer ball. I saved locks of hair from the first haircut. I have a box set aside for lost teeth. For both girls, I've documented the big "firsts." But it hit me that I'm not prepared for the finality that comes with watching them growing up and moving from baby to toddler to child to preteen and so on...
Because in that moment, it occurred to me that while I was so careful to be there and remember the "firsts" of my girls, I let the "lasts" disappear without second thought.
There will be a last time that she willingly holds my hand walking through Target. A last time that a baby snuggles into my neck while they fall asleep. The last time I get a middle-of-the-night wakeup call when someone has a bad dream. Sometimes in the too-near future, I will make my last bottle and fill my last sippy cup. There will be a last time that I pick out clothes and wrangle a toddler to get shoes on in the morning. One day, I will hear the words "pick me up!" for the last time. And I will rock my sweet baby girl to sleep for the last time, while she looks up at me. Or the last time I carry my girls upstairs to bed when they fall asleep watching "Planet Earf."
Not that I'm not glad we are getting through some of the more challenging phases (*cough threenagers are not fun*) or that I don't have to wake up every 2 hours at night and deal with chafing nipples or engorgement or under-production. Raising babies is not for the faint of heart. In fact, it can be really hard and really difficult. But above all, it is so rewarding.
So I'm focusing on the lasts. And the lasts to come. The last time I get asked to play Barbies. The last time they believe with childish innocence that a kiss will heal all wounds. The last time I wipe spaghetti sauce off hands, body, and out of hair. I'll get asked to get "lala [granola] bar" for the last time. The last time she sits on my lap while I brush her hair and braid it. The last time I hear endless verses of "Baby Shark." The last time I carry a dead-weight child into the house when she falls asleep in the car. The last time she believes I know everything.
I cannot promise I won't get frustrated, irritated, lose my patience, and wish for a day that I don't have to change endless diapers. But maybe I will control my temper and remember that these are all sadly fleeting moments that I wish to hold onto forever. Every moment is exactly what I wanted. And for every moment that I miss, I pray there is another that I remember.