Our youngest child is 3 and our oldest just turned 13. I’ve recently been reflecting and thinking back on how different their baby years looked.
When our oldest was born, it was a dream to reality moment for me. I had always wanted to be a mom and the day was finally here. He was ours. We held him, bathed him, fed him, and rocked him to sleep. After some weeks, I found myself wishing for the next thing. When would he roll over? Sit up? Crawl? Walk? I wanted him to grow up a little bit…and he did. Before he was 2, our second child was born. Our baby wasn’t the baby anymore; he’d been promoted. Now I wanted him to be a little more independent, to be able to do some things by himself, and to be my diaper runner and my helper. I wanted him to grow up a little bit more, to do the next thing and the next thing and the next. This pattern continued with all of our big kids. They’re all about two years apart. A lot of those days with them are a blur. It was so good, but so challenging and difficult too. I was sleep deprived and mentally and physically exhausted. Some days were hilariously enjoyable and others were hilariously draining. I was surrounded by babies and I wanted them all to be a little bigger, a little older, and a little less needy. They grew and seasons shifted. I no longer needed a diaper bag and extra clothes in the car, always. I hadn’t been pregnant or nursing for a couple of years and everyone could pretty much dress themselves. Day-to-day functioning was a little easier.
And then…a baby. I was pregnant with another life, gifted and trusted to Robert and I. This time was different though. We had one baby and everyone else was older. I had all of the help, the runners and diaper-go-getters, the baby holders and paci givers, so many adorers of this tiny life-gift in our arms. I no longer felt like a zombie and didn’t mind being awakened by this girl in the middle of the night. I enjoyed the alone time, just baby and me. I breathed in every moment a little more and held her a little longer. I knew what was coming all too well. The growing up quickly was inevitable, and now I wanted it to slow down. I wanted to linger in the newborn days and stroll through the first year. I wanted to drink in every baby sound and smile and smell. Our older kids felt the same, saying often that they wished she would just stay a baby. I think we all realized the preciousness of those baby days and wanted to stay there a little longer.
Time kept passing, like it does, and that baby is now 3. And you know, I still try to take in each moment and savor the days. She’s an early riser and I enjoy the mornings with her. I try so hard to remember all of her funny words and phrases and dance moves.
The Lord has and continues to use her life as a reminder to me to take in the present and each stage of growing up. He is teaching me to enjoy each season with all of our children and not to wish away my time with them. If I could tell my 13 year younger self anything, it would be this: don’t wish away the tiny years and let them get too big too quickly. Don’t get so bent out of shape over things that don’t really matter. Fuss a little less and pray a lot more. Get a big dose of patience because the baby days are stressful. They are exhausting and beautifully brutal, but they can’t be grabbed back or redone. The babies grow up. Today, go hug them and hold them and rock them and kiss them a little bit longer.