Monday, February 15, 2016

i can't catch my breath

today my youngest turns four. with that one sentence my heart skips a beat and i can't catch my breath. 

when did my baby stop being a baby? when did he become an independent, strong-willed preschooler? i feel like i closed my eyes for one second and he grew up. somehow time passes without my consent.

it all seems ridiculous. i've reached this milestone before. i have walked through four other four year old birthdays...but they were all different somehow. there was always a younger sibling stealing the show, a younger child who needed attention, who was toddling about, who was so small in comparison to my four year olds that the four year old birthday didn't seem so significant. i once felt grateful that my other kids were getting a little older, a little easier, a little less dependent because all of my energy was being poured into their younger brother or sister. when my oldest turned four, i had a 19 month old and a four month old and i was drowning. his birthday felt like a blessing.

now i'm in uncharted waters. i am walking down a road i've never walked with eyes fully wide open and i'm seeing today for what it is...the end of an era. 

as my youngest came up to me and said, "look, mommy. i'm so big," i outwardly cheered and inwardly wept. while i am so excited for the adventure that lies ahead for my sweet boy, i am mourning the loss of all things baby. there are no more bottles, pacifiers, diapers, carriers...those things are long gone. now, though, i have to prepare for the loss of chubby little hand holding, cuddling up on the same chair, taking naps together, carrying him on my hip, carting him off to preschool. i'm well aware that these days are moving much too quickly and for the first time in my life as a parent, there isn't another baby coming along to ease the pain. 

so today i spent hours holding the birthday boy on my lap while he still fits. tonight he got to go to sleep next to me in my bed because he still wants to cuddle just a little bit longer. as i said goodnight prayers with him, he echoed back prayers for me. 

"thank you, god for my sweet asher." 

"and mommy." 

"thank you that he is so special and precious to me." 

"and mommy." 

"thank you that you love him so, so much." 

"and mommy."

and just like that the pieces of my heart started to come back together again. i am raising one precious little boy. i'm blessed to be his mommy...and for the first time ever, i'm truly understanding how fast time is moving and the importance of not taking a moment of it for granted. so here is to chubby hand holding, comfy chair sharing, bedtime snuggles, slobbery kisses, spontaneous "i love you"'s, preschool snacks and bath-time giggles for as long as they last...and to cherishing each and every one of them. 

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