October 11, 2006

Savoring the Moment

I went out a few days ago to buy some shirts for Jack Henry and for the first time in 13 years I wasn’t shopping in the baby/toddler department.

It has been years since I bought diapers, the pacifiers are long gone, and last year Jack Henry moved from the baby bed to the bottom bunk. The toddler toys have been replaced with Batman guys and cars, he rides a bike not a trike, and he calls me mom instead of mommy. There are only a few remnants in our house of babies and toddlers – sippy cups and Baby Magic shampoo that I still wash him with so he’ll smell sweet.

As moms we want our boys and girls to grow up. We get excited about milestones – the first tooth, the first step, the first t-ball game, the first ballet class, the first time they read a word all alone ... there are so many firsts that we notice. And there are so many lasts that we don’t. I don’t remember the last time I rocked Lincoln in the rocking chair or the last time I tied Lillie’s shoes for her. I can’t remember the last time I got Mary Margaret dressed, or the last time I shopped in the toddler section for Jack Henry. I know there was a last time for all of these things, but I didn’t notice. I didn’t know it would be the last time.

Tired and frazzled moms long for the day when we can go someplace without spit-up on our clothes, when we can sleep through the night or when we can make it through an entire meal without interruption. And then one day we realize we are dressed in clothes that aren’t wrinkled or covered with stains. We've gotten eight hours of sleep in a row and we have enjoyed a meal without cutting up someone else’s food. And our hearts ache. We realize they grow up too fast.

So, you’ll have to excuse me but I’m going to hang on to my “baby” just a little bit longer. I’m going to keep washing him with baby shampoo and snuggle in bed with him at night and read Francis books over and over. When he asks me to lie in bed and scratch his back until he falls asleep, I’m not going to get up and fold the laundry. I’m going to sit on the couch and drink chocolate milk with him and watch Curious George and tickle him until he makes that belly laugh that only little people make.

I know I can’t hold on forever and I don’t want to. One day, like his brother, Jack Henry will be sitting at the table reading the sports page or grabbing his fishing pole to go fishing. I’ll be dropping him off at the golf course to play 18 holes and he’ll be reading The Odyssey and studying his Bible. And like I am with Lincoln, I will be proud of the man he is becoming.

But for now I am going to soak up every last drop of little-boyhood.

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