I just returned from a five-day business trip.
When I left, our son AJ was 2. When I came home, he was 5. I know it’s super cliche, but he’s literally growing up so fast. I’ve heard to enjoy every moment, but I sometimes find myself truly mourning the ones that are already gone.
There are so many things I want to hold on to, many of which are small in the scheme of life. A few months ago, he slowly took each stair one by one, refusing my help as we made the 13-step journey from his bedroom to the main living area of our home. He turned and clapped for himself when he made it safely to the landing.
I followed him into his playroom and sobbed uncontrollably while he made me dinner in his kitchen. Did I miss the last time he would ever hold my hand on the stairs? Was I fully present, or was I distracted by the cat or the doorbell or cooking dinner? Would I get a second chance?
I drink in every quirk he has, willing myself to remember and be grateful for it, because I don’t know if it will always be this way.
The top of his head gets hot when he’s tired. It has since birth, although we didn’t realize the cue at first. In the beginning, we were alarmed, thinking he’d spiked a sudden fever. But after multiple visits to the pediatrician, we were assured it’s just something he does. That sweaty little head has folded into my arms on countless occasions, signaling he needs a minute to recharge.
Our bedtime routine is one for the books. There’s a bath or shower, followed by milk, tooth brushing, affirmations, a song and then…massage. Little man’s taste for the fine life made an appearance early on, when he started not being able to fall asleep unless someone was rubbing his feet and hands. I hope his college roommates are up to the task.
He said “pig” for the first time yesterday, and my heart swelled like he’d won the Nobel Peace Prize. Dubba duh (“W”) has turned into ‘apple,’ ‘honey,’ ‘done,’ all the colors, almost all of his letters, the names of our family members and the list goes on. Part of me wishes I could bottle his cute little voice and keep it for eternity.
I know there will come a day he stops gently pushing the hair out of my face or crying for me when he’s sick. I cling to everything as if it really is the last…keeping outfits, shoes, his old bottle and things he scribbled on. I keep things I probably don’t need to keep.
I wonder sometimes if I hold on because I know too much. I know what it’s like to have a lifetime of moments stolen from me. Ashlie never walked down the stairs or called for Mama. She will never have a room full of toys or a dresser full of clothes that no longer fit. I didn’t get to rub her feet or hands as she fell asleep. The last time I held her this side of Heaven, her head was anything but hot.
I store every moment because I know this is it. There are no more babies for this Mommy…no “next time” or second chances. This is the last time for everything. So if I talk obsessively about how AJ did this or that or post videos and photos incessantly, please, no judging. I’m going to hold on as long as I can. At least I’m not hoarding cats.