I’m not sure what it was about her movements that caught my attention. I don’t remember what she was doing. I just remember that out of the corner of my eye, I saw my little girl’s sweet hands and they looked and moved like the hands of a girl much older than my daughter. I had to swallow hard over the lump in my throat. Somehow I must have blinked and now yet another part of my baby girl has been replaced with this self-assured little woman-to-be.
“I know why you bought me this shirt, Mama. You know how much I love chocolate. That’s what that heart means. ‘I heart chocolate’ means that I love it, right? I heart this shirt, Mama.”
And I heart you, little girl. I heart your sense of style. I heart that you rarely go anywhere without a journal and a pen or pencil so that you can write your songs and stories whenever the inspiration hits. I heart the hundreds of pictures that you draw every day and that can be found in every room of our house. I heart that you tell me about your day in so much detail that I feel like I was right there with you. I just heart you and I heart being your mom.
Then there’s this one.
He lost one of his front teeth about half an hour before we made it home from Alabama. He pulled it himself. When did he get old enough to pull his own tooth? The permanent tooth is already starting to peek out. I dread it. Those permanent front teeth always erase the last traces of baby.
I smile every time I think of the phone conversations I had with this one during our trip last week. He subscribes to the “less is more” method of communication. For example, here’s a portion of one our check-in sessions on the phone last week:
Me: So how was school today?
B: Kinda good.
Me: Just “kinda”? What was kinda bad about it?
B: Three people were sick.
Me: Oh, no! That’s not good. What’s wrong with them?
B: (pause) They were sick.
Always the overflowing fount of information, that one. But I’m going to keep listening to whatever he’s saying whenever he’s saying it.
And how did this little curly-haired baby whose mama was his very best friend:
He’s growing up way too fast. I’m nervous about what’s ahead for him. I’m trying desperately to keep our communication open and easy because I know that we’re fast approaching a time when he may not want to tell his mama the stuff he so readily tells me now.
Yesterday I got to spend some time with my friend’s little boy. He’s having his first birthday this month. As my friend was buckling him into his car seat and sending him off to spend the day with his fun Aunt Whimz :), she remarked, “I know you all told me this would go by quickly, but I had no idea you meant it would be this fast!”
I just didn’t have the heart to tell her that not only does that first year go by fast, but in my experience, the time continues to go faster and faster. Sometimes I feel like I need to just sit down so I can catch my breath, but I’m afraid that while I’m resting, I’ll miss something else. So since they won’t slow down, I’ve decided I will. This poem was in every third baby shower card I received, but since I’ve decided that my Snoodles will always be my babies no matter how old they get, I think this poem still applies:
Mother, oh mother, come shake out your cloth!
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing and butter the bread,
Sew on a button and make up a bed.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking!
Oh, I’ve grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
(Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).
The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren’t her eyes the most wonderful hue?
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
Oh, cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
But children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust, go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby. Babies don’t keep.
by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton
(first appeared, Ladies Home Journal, October 1958)
I have a question for you. What do you consciously do to make sure you’re not letting these moments with your babies pass you by? You might have some insight or good ideas that could help the rest of us make the most of the short time we have.