Sometimes it takes a moment of realization to remember that good parenting boils down to the simple things. Tonight, I had a moment of clarity, as a mother of four under the age of six, and I grabbed hold of an opportunity to revisit each baby again.
It was my husband’s turn to put the oldest two girls, who share a room, to bed. They’ll tell you, with deep conviction, that every night is my turn, because I scratch their backs for four songs, and he only lasts for one. But, because I need to jump on some projects and chores once in awhile, and they need their “dad time” just as much as their “mom time,” they usually lose the argument. I try to appease their pleas for me to change my mind by offering to tuck them in. Dad will handle the bedtime story and the prayers, and I’ll tuck them under their covers, sealing the deal with, what seems like, 700 smooches from forehead to chin and back again.
As I sat on the edge of my oldest daughter’s bed. I just took notice of her. I really looked into her eyes. I gazed at the sweet dimple forever etched in her chin – the first feature I noticed when I saw her sweet face for the very first time. I took hold of her still-small hand, and I saw her again – my baby. My bright-eyed, wispy-haired, bubbly baby sitting there, six years grown, but still very much the same.
Oh, how easily we lose sight of them. They grow at lightening speed. Their features blossom and evolve from cuteness to beauty, and, before we even know what hit us, we are staring at young ladies and men. Where do the babies go? Why do they melt away before we have the ability to appreciate them in their current state? Someday, they’ll be in college, getting married, having children of their own, and it will be this moment tonight that I revisit instead.
I looked at her intently, with purpose and conviction, and I decided to tell my baby how I feel about her.
I love you so much. You are so amazing. I’m so proud of you. I love everything about you. I love being your mommy. I just want to hold you for a minute. It seems like just yesterday you were a brand-new baby, and now, look at you, you are a beautiful little lady…
Her smile widened with each line, and she melted into my chest like that newborn I was remembering. She’s bigger now, but she’s still here. My baby is still here. Behind the large vocabulary and constant push for independence…my baby is still right here, nuzzled into my heart and needing my devoted affection.
After I tucked her in and kissed her those 700 times, I turned to my four year old, who had been lost in a book and not paying much attention to us.
What did you say to her, Mom?
I told her what I said, and then I revisited that sweet baby too. I looked at her big, sparkling, brown eyes and told her how amazing she is and how much I love her. I remembered her giddy, giggly grins, as I told her that I want to keep her small so I can cuddle her longer, and she agreed. We’ll work on that. 😉 She giggled that same contagious giggle, and I tucked her in too, sealing her up with smooches.
It only took a few minutes, but it will be impressed on our hearts for a lifetime.
Before they grow up, and I regret not savoring their smallness more, I will take these pockets of time to find my babies again. I appreciate the incredible little girls they are, but I’d be lying if I said my perspective hasn’t shifted with each passing year, making them even older than they are and expecting more from them than I need to. Seeing them as I once did years ago, evokes those tender emotions in such a powerful way, that I can lay everything that comes with parenting older children aside for a few minutes and just love on them…