The Last Firsts

I can’t imagine a bigger thief than time. The fact that one year can pass by so quickly is both amazing and upsetting. At this time last year, I was preparing for our baby boy’s impending arrival. Swollen, grouchy and uncomfortable yet embracing those final weeks.

Man I miss that bump…sometimes.

Somehow I am currently preparing for his first birthday in a couple weeks while trying to figure out where the last twelve months have gone. So check in on me friends, because I am struggling at the thought of never having an infant of mine in the house again.

You would have thought that I mourned this phase once already when we sold all of our baby items after our second daughter was a toddler. We (and by we, I mean my husband) were sure there wouldn’t be another baby for us. Whatever I didn’t pass along to family and friends, I sold at a garage sale. It didn’t sting at the time for me, though, because I secretly knew that there would be more one day.

Maybe that’s why this time feels different. We have officially committed to the completion of our family, and the realization has set in that we will never again live out those beautiful first year milestones with a baby. As my son’s first birthday approaches, I find myself hopelessly longing for those precious and fleeting moments once more. It all caught up with me at once. These are our last firsts and there is no redoing them.

Basking in newborn splendor as the summer sun crept across the corner of my bed early in the morning. The up-all-nights that had me running on fumes and coffee for days on end. The first time I saw his face and our first nap together in our birthing suite. The first sleepy smile and the first time he slept through the night. His first bath, first trip, first foods, first tooth. The first time I heard his rolling laughter and the first time he army crawled across the living room floor rug. The last time he used the bassinet and the first time he went to the crib. The last time he wore newborn clothes before packing them away. The last time I used my pump and the final time I fed him a bottle before transitioning to sippy cups. The very last time I walked out of the hospital as a new mom, and the final moment we welcomed a brand new baby home.

No more dirty burp rags scattered throughout the house. No bottles drying on the drying rack or empty formula containers on the counter. No jumperoo, play mat or walker under the living room window. The spaces in our home that were once totally occupied with baby necessities are freeing up as he grows, and it is a bittersweet reminder of how quickly time is passing by.

Looking back I think of all those sleepless nights I was quick to wish away, the challenges that tripped us up and the times I desperately wanted things to be easier. Life goes by fast enough without me rushing along the rough parts. There is room for growth in chaos, too–a lesson hard learned this past year. So don’t worry mamas and daddies of the itty bitty ones; we’re all just wingin’ it.

Side note: babies were easier in my twenties. 

Gone are our baby years, yes. An incredible season that has come to an end. Transitioning from one stage to the next is busy and beautiful. In an effort to shield my mama heart, I am trying to not dwell on the finalization of our baby years by welcoming gratitude for having them in the first place. Walking the very fine line where change is good and necessary, but also surprisingly hard. Such is the contrast between grasping the things that keep him a baby and letting go (ever so slightly) so that he can grow into the wild toddler I suspect he will become.

Before I know it, another stage will pass. More rapidly than I will ever prefer; just like his sisters before him. And that’s okay because I can take all of this with me. Every memory. Every milestone. Every little thing. I write them down, share it here, put some in a slightly neglected baby book and refer back to it all anytime I want to say, “…look how much you’ve grown.” That’s the best part. Being able to say we did it all together.

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Baby boy, I am so excited to celebrate your first trip around the sun. We love you beyond words! 

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Let Them Lead

She sat on the floor for the last round of practice. It was only the second dance practice they had attended. I got within her line of sight and signed to Tessa to stand up.

She refused. “My side hurts too bad mom.” I knew better and I signed to her once more…stand up. She stomped her feet two times and exclaimed that she couldn’t do it; that she just couldn’t keep up. “Yes you can,” I reminded her.

When practice was over, she pouted all the way to the car. “I’m not good at dance mom. I did really bad.” No matter how many times I reassured her that she did great, she remained discouraged. About a mile outside of town, she began to cry. I began to say something again with the hopes of boosting her spirits; but her younger sister interrupted me, and I let her take the lead.

“Tessa, listen. If you think you’re bad at something, then everyone will think you are bad at it. But if you think you’re the best, then you are the best no matter what!” My eyes were glued to the road ahead of me as I absorbed her beautiful words, so simply stated.

She continued, “…your robot move was awesome! I think you did it better than me for sure! This is our first time doing dance, and we have to keep practicing to get better, okay? So don’t worry about it.” Tessa sniffled once more, and agreed with what her sister said. Together, they sang Christmas songs the rest of the ride home.

Who was this wise old soul sitting in the back of my car, and what did she do with my five year old daughter? I guess all of that Full House watching has really paid off!

When we got back home, I shared with my husband what had just transpired during our ten minute drive home. He pulled Kendal into the living room and told her how kind she is and how proud he was of her genuineness in helping her big sister feel better.

There have been few moments in parenthood that have actually rendered me speechless, and this was one of them. While our youngest daughter certainly does challenge us with her strong will and spirited personality, she also has the innate ability to encourage and uplift.

I often question myself as a mother. For me it just comes with the territory. Always wondering if I am doing a good enough job to ensure our children are compassionate to those around them, but never quite sure that they fully grasp the concept. Hoping each morning that when they walk out the door, they go with open hearts to share with others.

“While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.”-Angela Schwindt

Raising children isn’t about how perfectly we do it. I know because I am far from perfect, and my youngest girl just swooped in and saved the day in true Danny Tanner fashion.

Sometimes our kids lead the way for us when we can’t figure it out. More and more, we’re letting them.