Back in 1988, the book Love You Forever, by Robert Munsch hit the bestseller list for the first time. That was the year my son was born and the year I bought my copy. Without exaggerating, I believe I must have read that book a thousand times since then. Already having had one child, I was beginning to see how quickly kids grow. That book holds a very special place in my heart.
When I first read that to my older kids, it seemed a little creepy to me that the mom would drive across town and crawl into her grown son’s room so she could rock him while he slept. Now, it seems I’ve become that creepy mom. No, I won’t really stalk my adult-children, but I can fully relate to sentiment. If I could, and I thought I could get away with it, I’d get in my car and go rock each one of my children to sleep. Tonight, even.
Time passes. We blink and our children are celebrating yet another birthday. Sometimes the most precious moments we get to experience as moms get shuffled in with the day-to-day obligations and are forgotten.
I wrote this for my older children, who turned from babies into adults when I wasn’t looking:
I remember the first time I cradled you in my arms, but I can’t remember the last. Guess I always figured there’d be a next. If I had known it would be the last time, I’d have taken time to breathe in the sweet smell of your skin and hair, feel the heavenly warm weight of your little body in my arms. I’d have tried to burn that feeling – that image – into my brain, my heart, my soul.
When was the very last time I carried you to bed, tucked you in and kissed you goodnight? I wish I could remember. If only I could have known it would be the very last time, I’d have curled up next to you to on your bed, watched the rhythmic rise and fall of your chest, and let myself be lulled to sleep by the sweet sounds of your gentle slumber.
I can never forget the very first time I rocked you in my arms and sang to you – Hush Little Baby. It was as though no song before had ever had meaning. I can’t remember the last song I sang to you. I guess I figured there’d always be one more song to share – one more time that your little smiling eyes would tell me that your mommy had the sweetest voice in all the world. If I had known it would be the very last time, I’d have squeezed you just a little tighter, rocked you just a little longer, and sang another song and another and another…
When, my sweet child, was the very last time I swooped you up off of the floor to the heavenly sound of your squeals of delight and twirled you and dipped you and danced with you until I was out of breath but you were pleading, “Please, Mommy. One more time.” Always to some silly tune. I wish I would have known it would be the last. If only I had known…I’d have picked an endless song and we’d be dancing, still.
Things you’ll miss (among the many), believe it or not:
Trimming fingernails and toenails – those tiny little girl and boy hands – perfect little hands.
Gently putting a Band-Aid on a boo-boo – even if the boo-boo is only in their head.
Your little ones’ fuzzy little legs. I love fuzzy little legs. When my kids sit on my lap, I am tickled to see the golden peach fuzz on their legs. I don’t know exactly what it is, but it screams innocence.
And toys. You’ll miss toys – even when they’re scattered all over the floor. Because when the toys go away, so does a lot of the magic of childhood.
You'll also miss pushing your kids on a swing: The day Angus learned to swing by himself was one of the sweetest, saddest days of my life. I can’t believe the way my emotions tugged at me in two totally different directions at the same time. I was thrilled that my boy had mastered one of the greatest joys in childhood. My little boy had grown wings. I still remember that feeling from my own childhood when I thought that I could touch the clouds with my feet if I only could only swing high enough. But even as I was thrilled for Angus, an equal part of me was sad. I knew it was the end of “Push me, Mommy.”
To be completely honest, the end of the “push me, Mommy” stage for my triplets held a different meaning. I’m sure I was quite a sight on the public playgrounds, running the gauntlet between three different swings – each swing with the potential to send me flying into a face-full of rubber mulch. I was a bit more relieved when they learned to swing on their own. But there is still a twinge of sadness there, too. Sadness because my babies don’t need me for that anymore.
You’ll also miss hearing “Mommy, look at me!” and “Mommy, do you know what?” and “Mommy, I want that!” Basically just the constant chitter-chatter of your little ones. This one’s a biggy for me. My kids are huge talkers. When my older kids were younger, I used to kid with them that God gave them each a certain amount of words and if they used them up, they’d never be able to speak again. But, even the sweetest, chattiest child turns into a teenager who will seem to have lost all ability to communicate, resorting to one-word sentences, body language, grunts and clicks. Trust me when I say, you’ll miss your chatter-box.
I guess what I’m getting at is that it all goes by so quickly. Don’t forget what a gift motherhood really is. The real gift of motherhood is in the tiny things – in the actual mothering.
So, when your little one begs, “Pick me up, Mommy,” pick her up and whisper in her ear that she is the most precious little girl in the whole world. Make it your little secret. A confidence. Someday, when she’s grown, she’ll give you a call when she’s down and say, “Pick me up, Mom” and you’ll share a funny story to make her smile, and you’ll tell her that she is the most precious girl in the whole world.
When she says, “Watch me, Mommy,” watch her. Someday, she’ll march down the aisle in her cap and gown and her eyes will search the crowd to find you. And when your baby’s eyes meet yours and she smiles, you’ll hear her heart say, “Watch me, Mommy.” And you’ll watch. And you’ll cry tears of joy for what she’s become and tears of sadness because your baby is not your baby anymore.
So when you have those stressed-out days when you want to hang up your mommy-apron for the day, don't lose sight of how fleeting childhood is. It will help you remember what a wonderful gift motherhood really is.
"As long as I'm living, my baby you'll be." - Robert Munsch