You turned 4 just a few months ago. We celebrated the occasion with a party, cake, presents and the inauguration of a brand-new family tradition: marking your height on the wall. You're still so small, but you're not as small as you used to be.

I carried you to bed last night, just because you asked. You don't normally ask—you usually lead the way and I follow behind, content, but last night you asked to be carried. I pulled you into my arms and I settled your small body beneath the covers. But your body is not as small as it once was. It fills your bed and leaves so little room for me.

I held you in my arms this past weekend. You didn't want to stand beside us like you usually do, so I let you sit in my arms, and later in my lap. I hoisted you up, a head above the crowd so that you could see better. My arms were sore by the end—you're so much heavier than you used to be, but you're still light enough for me to lift you. I wrapped my arms around you as you rested your head on my chest. You still fit so perfectly there, even if your legs dangle over my knees now.

You turned 4 just a few months ago. You're not so little anymore. You can do so much by yourself now. So often you remind me that you don't need me the way you used to. You don't need me to feed you, to carry you, to help you fall asleep. You don't need me to entertain you, to clean up after you, to wash your hands for you. But you still need me, in different ways. I know that you'll always need me, even if your needs change as you age.

And now that you don't always need me, I cherish those moments when you still do want me. When you want me to hold your hand. When you want me to carry you to bed. When you want me to hold you in my arms. When you want me to pull you up into my lap. When you want me close. When you want me to comfort you. When you want me to wipe your tears. I never want to say no.

Even though my back aches.

Even though my arms struggle to support you.

Even though my knees creak when I lift you up.

Even though I know that soon enough, I'll have to tell you that you're too big. Or you'll beat me to it, and when I offer to carry you, you'll tell me that you're too big and run off ahead of me. But rest assured, even when you're too big, I will always be willing to follow behind. Or walk beside.

Or forge ahead. I know that you will always need me, but it'll be different then, and I'm not quite ready to let you go.

So even though my back aches, I will continue to carry you.

Even though my arms are sore, I will hold you.

Even though my knees creak, I will lift you.

You turned 4 a few months ago, and I know that you won't be so little for long. You continue to sprout up before my eyes. You are constantly changing, growing and maturing, and I will savor these sweet moments while they last. The smell of your baby shampoo. Your small arms wrapped around my neck. Your head resting against my chest. Your soft voice when you call for your mama. I will hold those moments even after the days of holding you in my arms have passed.

But for now, even though my back aches, I'm just not ready to let you go.