Something about having a second child has made me keenly, painfully aware of how quickly babies grow up. Compared to Lillian, Charlie is so big and grown up and tall. He has zero baby fat left; he can reach up to flick the high-placed light switches off and on; he can explain his hurts and his excitement and his accomplishments.
Knowing how quickly Charlie’s first three years have flown by makes Lillian’s babyhood seem sweeter. Charlie serves as a daily reminder that Lillian will soon be a walking, bouncing, talking toddler. We know from experience that we will someday be well rested again. We know that Lillian won’t always be so clingy with Mommy. We know that this crazy stage of constant teething will not last forever. And while that’s a relief, it is also sort of heartbreaking.
Lately Charlie’s striking big-boyness and Lillian’s fast-approaching graduation from babyhood have been on my mind in that somber way with which we contemplate life and the passage of time. I feel a bit sad that I’m almost thirty; sad that I’ll never experience my first or my second pregnancy again.
Today I took Lillian to the grocery store, and as I pushed the cart through the parking lot back toward the car, I tried to be present in the moment. “Soak it up,” they say. “It goes by so fast,” they say. I looked at Lillian in all her cuteness, sitting up in the cart in her tiny gray-and-pink coat, with her little chubby legs dangling from the seat, and my heart felt ready to burst in that mommy moment. “Don’t grow up!” I wanted to tell her. “I like this age.”
Tonight I have whittled away a few hours doing nothing productive, which is a nice change of pace sometimes. In my lazy browsing of various blogs, I came across this little gem from Rachel Balducci, author of How Do You Tuck In a Superhero? (which, by the way, is a hilarious book I recently proofread for Baker). I’m trying to embrace the optimism of her closing remark:
The beautiful thing, what makes this all slightly less heartbreaking, is the chance we have to watch these changes and help a little along the way. And we get to meet a whole new person in the midst of this, someone who greatly resembles a child we used to know, who in many ways will always be that child.