All of the baby books go on and on about when to expect the first smile, the first step, the first word. They go on in great detail about what milestones your baby should be reaching and when they should be reaching them. We made sure to get as many of these firsts as we could on film. We got Sarah rolling over for the first time and Peter taking his first step. I have journal entries about their first words, where we were, how we felt, how they looked. All of this care was taken so that I would be able to look back and fondly recall all of the important firsts in my babies’ lives. So that I could remember everything exactly as it was.
But no one warned me to be on the look out for the lasts. No one told me to pay attention so that I would notice and remember the last time my son twirled his hair the way he had done a thousand times before. I used to think it was an adorable little nervous habit and at the same time I worried that he might be sitting in his very first job interview nervously twirling his hair between his right thumb and forefinger trying to figure out the best way to answer the question “Which piece of fruit would you be in the fruit bowl?” He used to do it all the time but he doesn't do it any more. I wish I could see him do it again. How did I miss the very last time?
No one told me to pay attention so that I would recall the last night, the exact last moment my little girl would fall asleep with her pacifier plunged firmly between her lips sucking like she was Maggie Simpson. She always looked so calm and peaceful sleeping with her paci but I was too busy worrying that she would be the only kid in kindergarten toting a pacifier, an assortment of blankets, doll babies and other lovies with her on her first day that I forgot to notice the last time she used it.
And what about all the other lasts I have missed. When exactly was the last time Peter said “oh-goo” when he meant yogurt or “nambies” when he meant bananas? When exactly was the last time I carried a sleepy Sarah to her room and whispered “lay your head on my shoulder” and she did? How did my babies look as they drifted off to sleep the very last time I held them after giving them their very last bottle? Why don’t I have a picture of that sweet sleepy expression? How did they look the very last time they splashed happily around in their little baby bathtub? How did it look the very last time they scooted across the floor on all fours before they learned how to walk? How did they look the very last time they threw Cheerios off their high chair table? How could I have missed all these lasts? Why didn’t I know to be looking for them, recording them, capturing them?
There are many days over the last 4 and a half years when I have thought things like "when will he be potty trained?", “will she ever learn to walk?", “if only they were older we could…” and now I look back and in my quest to hurry and grow them up I’ve missed too many of the lasts.
I don’t want to miss any more. I want to remember the very last time Peter is small enough to be picked up or the last time Sarah gives me her hand as we are walking across the backyard. I want to remember the last time they call me “Mommy” because it won’t be long until I am just plain old Mom. I want to remember and enjoy it all. I don’t want to hurry things up because unfortunately things are moving way too fast on their own.