Lately, as my baby approaches Kindergarten, I am thinking less about the "firsts", and more about the "lasts". The "lasts" sneak up on us, and we often don't even know that they occurred until afterwards. A few weeks ago, when Flynn took my hand to go up to receive Communion at Mass instead of lifting her arms to be picked up, it hit me. I had carried a baby in church for the last time. And I hadn't even known it. When Madison was little and still in her crib, we had her big girl bed all ready for her. One day she simply stated she wanted to sleep in it. As excited as I was for her, I cried myself to sleep that night. That very morning, I had walked into her nursery and saw her smiling face and watched her jump up and down holding the crib rail that she had chewed on while teething. I had lifted her out of that crib for the last time. And I hadn't even known it.
When Peyton was little, every morning while Rhett napped and Madison was at school, she and I had coffee and toast. We would sit together in a big chair. She had milk and I had coffee. We shared toast, and she would always take the last sip of my coffee. One day, I got up from that chair and put that coffee cup away for the last time. And I hadn't even known it. When Rhett was a baby, he had a favorite book. It was called Big Farm Tractor. Every single day, we snuggled in the rocker in his room and read that book before his afternoon nap. One day I closed that book and set it down. I tucked my little boy into his bed for his nap for the last time. And I hadn't even known it.
I didn't know when I changed a diaper, or bought formula, or gave a bubble bath or carried a baby up the stairs or pushed one in a stroller that it would be the last time I would do it with that child. Or with any child of mine. And I am so thankful for that. I don't think my heart would be able to stand knowing that those simple moments of mothering were ending. As much as I realize that a large part of mothering means letting go, I still resist and mourn change. As much as I anticipate those "firsts", I dread the "lasts". I long to hang onto childhood. It is beautiful and safe and cozy. But as my dear friend Tara reminded me...these moments can be sweet too. And I realize that these "lasts" mean something else. They mean new "firsts".
The last time my Flynn had me carry her in church meant that the next week would be the first time she would walk herself. And she was so proud to do so. The last time I drove Madison to work meant that the next time she would drive herself. And she was thrilled to do so. Mothering is indeed letting go. And learning to embrace it. One "last" at a time.
One of my favorite parts of mothering each and every child...pushing a stroller on our morning walk.
Here is my baby Flynn just a few short years ago all ready for our morning walk. : )