Thursday, July 26, 2007

What about all the lasts?

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.


Anonymous said...

This is beautiful, heartfelt and brought tears to my eyes. I wondered the same type things years ago - and guess what? I got to enjoy all the firsts, and even more so, all over again through Peter and Sarah! And still just yesterday, I was thinking about the last time I told Peter a story in his Cornelius bedroom and remembered that his hair smelled so sweet! I miss that! And you know how I love drying Sarah's hair in the sink - I guess I'll hoist her up until she's at least 14! Aren't we so very blest that God gave us memories!

Anonymous said...

You expressed much more poignantly than I could some thoughts I've had recently about my own "lasts". I used to row almost every day of my life, yet I don't remember the "last" time I was in a shell. Would I have savored that "last" rowing workout more if I had known it would be the final time I would be out on the water in a shell? Or would the sadness of knowing it would be the last time have overcome the exhilaration of the moment? There's a difference between the "lasts" in a child's life and those in an adult's life, I think. When, inevitably, Sarah no longer wants to grind the coffee with me in the morning, I will know it's because she is moving on to bigger and more challenging things. By contrast, there is less optimism in some of the "lasts" of the older generation (e.g., the last time Mom wanted to go swimming, the last time I could run without violating my orthpedist's orders). Peter's and Sarah's lives and experiences are expanding at the same time as the older generation's lives are contracting. Thank God Peter and Sarah are here to embrace the life we older folks are slowly letting go!

Pam said...

I have a big lump in my throat!

My mom says she kept having babies (all 5 of us) because she wanted to experienc all those thing all over again.

I guess this is why older people keep telling me to "enjoy it now because they grow up so fast." The iron of it is that while you are in it, you are almost too busy trying just to survive, to enjoy it. They when you are through it, you look back and wonder where it all went.

While I lament the fact that some day my kids won't want to be cuddled any more, I realize that they are only on loan to me for a short time, and each step they take in growing up is one step closer to them being used of the Lord in His work.

Pam said...

That would be "irony."