Monday, April 27, 2015

The Firsts And The Lasts

When I was expecting Madison years ago, I received a milestone calendar to mark the important "Firsts" of her first year. You know...her first smile, her first tooth, the first time she rolled over, and the first steps she took. I was vigilant about anticipating these major moments in my baby's life, and was so excited each and every time I got to document one on her calendar. They even had cute little stickers to add! I was so excited to watch as she moved through the year and accomplished all these "firsts". It was the same with my Peyton, Rhett, and Flynn. Well...maybe the documentation slacked off a bit...but I still anticipated each and every "first" of my sweet babies.

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. : )






21 comments:

  1. I have raised 3 beautiful daughters who now have families of their own. I loved them enough to let them go to University and then work miles away from home. They love me enough to keep coming back, we have a wonderful relationship and I see them often.

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  2. Time sure does fly by way too fast doesn't it? It's these treasured memories from wonderful moments that will stay with us always. How very blessed we are to be stay at home moms and enjoy this wonderful time in their lives. Have a lovely day!

    Blessings,
    Jill

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  3. This is so beautiful Billie Jo. One of my favorite posts of yours. It IS so hard to let go, but seeing the person they are turning into is like seeing the fruits of your labor during all those early years.
    Thanks for sharing your heart with us.

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  4. Awww -- that is so sweet!! It is true that time seems to just speed by all of a sudden. Nice to remember and cherish the firsts and lasts! Hope you have great day!

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  5. This post just touched my heart Billie Jo! Those moments are so precious - and I think we, as mothers, deserve a little "mourning moment" for those lasts. It's all ok as long as we can then get excited to greet the next "firsts". ;0)


    Thanks for sharing such special thoughts. Love the pic of Flynn in the stroller! xoxo

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  6. So beautiful! Life is full of firsts and lasts. Thank you for reminding me to savor all the moments.

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  7. What a beautiful, beautiful post! I love how you are able to embrace the passing of time with such optimism. I agree with you - I think it's a good thing that we usually aren't aware of the "lasts."
    Have you heard of Karen Kingsbury's childern's book "Let Me Hold You Longer"? This post reminds me of it.
    Have a wonderful day!

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  8. I totally get this. Going way too fast for me too!

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  9. A mother's heart has to be very big and very strong to handle the different stages of her children, and I know your heart is very big and loving. Mine are all grown and I enjoy the grands, and the memories they bring of their parents.

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  10. Beautifully written, and all so very true. This reminds of a song; can't think of the name but lyrics that say "don't blink". The other day I was doing a little wool gathering and it popped into my head "how did my daughter turn 50? Where have I been? How is it that I have 3 great grandchildren. I must have blinked; that's all I can think. :)
    xoxo

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  11. Oh your words are so beautiful. It is great to anticipate the firsts, but not so the lasts. You are right, sometimes it is better not to know that it is the last time! I am sure that there will be masses of good things yet to come though! xx

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  12. Crying... why is it that we don't know it's the last during the last? If only I could have an afternoon when I put Anna in her stroller and walk around the block waiting for daddy to come home. Why can't I just do that one more time??? But someday... won't I say that today, April 28th "they were so little"? What's the trick? How do I hold on to today and not let it through my fingers? Love your thoughts and your words.. and you!

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  13. This is such a sweet post, one that made me smile and even a bit sad. It all goes by too quick but somehow every stage is wonderful in its own way

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  14. Billie Jo, your post is both beautiful and a bit sad. Take heart, dear friend, before long, grandchildren will start the whole firsts cycle again! :-)

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  15. Wonderful thoughts (and memories!) Don't you find them coming in phases, almost seasonal? I do wish things would slow down a bit more.

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  16. I really need to read this today. Thank you! xoxo

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  17. This touched my heart, so beautiful! It's hard, this letting go. But I love the adults my older kids have become! So I guess the growing up pain is worth it. ;)

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  18. Time goes so quickly...our children are with us really such a short time. Thank you for this touching and poignant post.

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  19. Time goes so quickly...our children are with us really such a short time. Thank you for this touching and poignant post.

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  20. Oh I just found your blog tonight and this is just one of the most beautiful posts I've read in a long time! I'm sort of the opposite to this. I've always felt like life is so short, as if I'm never going to get today back again. I'm never going to have this snuggle from my 5 year old (tear, tear) again. Tonight might be the last time my 7 month old needs to nurse several times in the middle of the night, etc. As far back as I can remember, I've always thought this way. I think it's been God's special gift to me to see life this way because I find myself really enjoying these moments...the good...the bad...and the ugly (and some days there are just some ugly, sleep deprived moments). Ha! I know I'll never get this day back, so as I type this, listening to my baby begin his sleep process I think, thank God for this blog tonight. You have touched my heart and reminded me once again, how great it is to just "be" with my children! Thank you!!

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  21. Right there with ya. Totally going through this with Hope right now. She has recently started talking. It all went so fast.

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Billie Jo