Little Doesn’t Last Long

“When did you get so big?” I asked my two–wait, almost three–year old recently.  “Yesterday mom.  That’s when I got so big,” she replied with certainty.  “Yeah me, too mom,” her big sister chimed in.

No really, I thought, when did it happen?  They climb in and out of the tub on their own, dress themselves. And their hands, without even the slightest of baby squish anymore, wrap around mine when they tell me they love me. Yesterday I held them for the first time; today they are singing all the words to Taylor Swift songs.  It is easy to get sidetracked as they grow.  I don’t mean to; I suppose it just comes with the territory.

That transition from newborn to big kid seems like it happens overnight. Somewhere in between scrubbing crusty cereal off the kitchen chairs, discovering crayon on the walls and marker on the carpet, breakfast giggles, first wagon rides of the new year and falling asleep while reading yet another Dr. Seuss book, I tend to forget that someday–long before I will be ready–they will be grown up.  I won’t be reading bedtime stories or strolling two little girls to the park forever.

When those days come, I hope the sight of marker stains from days past will take me right back to these very times.

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I complain about the messes.  I scold them for silly things.  We rush through the days without thinking to slow down. Then out of nowhere I am reminded of how quickly time is passing, and I am remember to appreciate the hard days of parenting too.

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We enforce rules and sometimes we bend them too.  And today bending the rules meant wearing sparkly dress-up dresses for no reason other than they wanted to.

I really was not prepared for how fast this all goes.  Last night both of the girls asked me to rock them to sleep so I did.  We have gotten into a strict bedtime routine lately that I forgot how much I missed wrapping them up in their blankies and rocking them to sleep.  One held my shirt sleeve and the other held my hand.

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Today:  “Can you hold my baby for a little bit mommy?”  Right before I was about to tell her I couldn’t, I realized the chores could wait. My phone could be put down.  My attention could easily be her’s.  With a baby doll in my arms, she says “Okay.  I have to go to work.  Change her diaper and feed her a bottle.  Don’t drop her.  Okay?  Thanks mom.”

Sooner than later, they won’t even pick up a baby doll.  Answer that toy phone.  Eat the play food.  Rock them to sleep.  Listen to their stories–even if you’re busy.  Build the lego towers and tip them right over.  Read the extra book.  Give them sugar.  Create memories.  Make a mess.  Play hide and seek. Play house.  Play beauty parlor, school, dress-up…whatever they want. Be silly. Let their imaginations soar.

Because little doesn’t last long.

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Dear Tessa: Happy 4th Birthday!

Dear Tessa,

How in the world are you 4 years old already?

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You keep growing up so fast as though I won’t notice.  But I do.

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I see you achieving everything that, at one time, I thought you maybe wouldn’t.

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Shining brighter than ever before.  And I love it.

In a few weeks you start Pre-k.  I won’t go all ugly-mom-cry on you today.  I’ll save that for your first day of school…again.  Can you believe how big you are, though?  Because I sure can’t.  Take me back to the first days when all we did was cuddle up and take naps.  But cool 4 year olds like you don’t appreciate a good cuddle sesh as much as your dear old moms do.

I really look forward to your birthday each year.  Because it means there is another good year in the books and another year to come. The mystery of the upcoming year is exciting.  You grow through challenges and learn through experiences–the way every child does.

Your birthday is especially sentimental for me.  Today, I’ll spend a fair amount of time remembering the day you were born; recalling the moment we learned that you had Down syndrome.  The first day we met you, you rocked our world.

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But you promised us everything would be okay, and you totally stole our hearts.

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Every day since your arrival has been an adventure.

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And we wouldn’t change a thing.

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Happy 4th Birthday Tessa Jo.  We love you to the moon and right back. Here’s to another awesome year!

Love, Mom.

P.S.– I lied.   I am ugly-mom-crying all over my desk right now.