My baby is growing up way too fast.
I feel like just yesterday I was dressing him in 3-month clothes. Now he’s in 3T. At almost 2 years old and three feet tall, he’s testing his new height and confidence, getting his hands on everything and wreaking havoc all over the house.
This is the stage they warned me about…where ornery is his middle name and I can’t turn my back for one second unless I want important documents in the trash or my cereal all over the floor. And don’t even get me started on the number of times I’ve pried the toilet paper roll from his hands as he rips yet another square to shreds.
He’s recently discovered the amazing food group that is ice cream and has learned where to find it. About 23 times an hour, he runs to the freezer, pulls out the container and helps himself…no shame about sticking his cute little face right in the tub. (Don’t worry, we don’t serve the vanilla to our guests.)
At night, I close my eyes and lay next to him in bed as he drifts off to sleep, soaking in every second and breathing him in…until his small finger finds its way into my nose, then we both dissolve into giggles.
He is maddening, frustrating, exhausting…and perfect.
The days–though they seem to drag at times–are passing at the speed of light. Hours fly like cars on the Autobahn, moving so fast I can’t keep up. But even though I lose track of time, get nothing done and straighten my house 98734 times a day, I cannot and will not wish these moments away. I know what it’s like when you lose something and can’t get it back.
AJ’s big sister Ashlie is forever 8 pounds, 13 ounces and almost 23 inches long. Her frilly pink clothes with kitties and bunnies, still washed and waiting for her to come home, lay silent, unworn. Memories of what could have been, lovingly folded and tucked inside gray plastic tubs in the basement.
Any physical evidence of Ashlie’s existence was packed away two years ago as we readied our hearts and our home for AJ, but I miss her every single day.
I never heard her cries for mama, watched her learn to dance or discover where to find the ice cream. I won’t ever clean the trail of chaos she leaves behind her or breathe her in at night before bed.
I imagine many parents feel a twinge of regret and sadness as they sell or give away the baby items they no longer need. I’d bet there’s a mom or two out there who sheds a few tears as she packs away the last of the onesies or offers the rock ‘n’ play to a friend. But I would never wish a twisted, bittersweet pain like this on anyone. Every milestone we celebrate with AJ is a reminder of what won’t ever be with Ashlie.
And it’s because of my love for her that I have a deeper love for him. I don’t ever want to take him for granted.
You don’t know what you’ve lost until you can’t ever get it back. Hug your babies tight. Cherish every little thing. Soak it in and let it wash over you…the chaos, the tantrums, the dirty faces, the messes, the moments. Stop wishing them away…for when he sleeps through the night, when she can feed herself, when she’s in pre-school, when he can tie his own shoes. I’d give anything to get those moments with my daughter.