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“Mama, I can hold you?”

I look down from doing the dishes or working at the computer or eating my breakfast to see those full blue eyes staring back, begging me to pick her up.

My daughter is two, and I often joke with my friends that she is borderline obsessed with me.

But while there are plenty of moments I wish silently that she could entertain herself for a minute or two while I finish whatever task I’ve set out to accomplish, there’s something that always gives me pause and ultimately moves me to set down what I’m doing and pick her up.

The fact is, my daughter is the perfect cuddling size right now. She’s still light enough that I can hold her for hour-long stretches without my arms giving out, but also has enough perfectly placed baby softness to melt into my body.

Her arms are long enough to wrap around my neck in a firm-but-gentle embrace, and her legs are short enough that when we sit and cuddle, her knees drape around me gently in a perfect origami fold. There’s still no sign of the gangly limbs and pointy knees that will undoubtedly define her future. There’s still no awkwardness to interrupt our embrace.

There are times when her hugs are so perfect, they nearly take my breath away.

But with each heart swell her hugs give me comes a painful flash of thought: She is the perfect cuddling size right now. And one day—one day very soon—she won’t be.

One day, she won’t come running after we’ve been apart for an afternoon or an hour or 45 seconds or—really—no time at all, throwing her arms around my neck and shrieking, “Mama! I missed you!”

One day, she won’t answer my request for kisses with a prolonged smack “on da wips” or a toothless, giggling chomp on my cheek.

One day, she won’t beg to “snuggow on da couch!” when naptime sleepiness consumes her, insistent that I curl around her while she sleeps away the afternoon.

One day, she won’t demand I take down my ponytail the second I put it up, craving to twirl her chubby baby fingers through my hair while she burrows her soft cheek into my neck.

One day, she won’t need me as desperately as she does today. One day, she won’t be a baby at all.

Two gets such a bad rap sometimes. And, truthfully, sometimes it deserves it. But amidst all those flaring tantrums and argumentative sass, it’s easy to forget that two is the last bit of the baby we brought into this world.

Two is the last glimpse of our gummy newborn before square, crooked teeth take over.

Two is the last bit of babbling before full sentences and a surprisingly diverse vocabulary move in.

Two is packed with moments of surprising insight and depth that provide a near constant hinting at the adult lurking within your baby.

So I try to relish these moments of perfect hugs and unabashed love.

Because one day, she’ll be a kid embarrassed to call out that she loves me across a crowded room.

Because one day, she’ll be a teenager who rolls her eyes when I ask for a kiss—though maybe she’ll acquiesce a reluctant peck on the cheek.

Because one day, she’ll be an adult who forgets to call when she’s tired and doesn’t answer my worried texts until the next day.

Because one day, her only commentary on my hair will be telling me it’s time to trim my split ends already.

Because one day, she won’t need me as desperately as she does today. One day, she won’t be a baby at all.

“Mama, I wan hold you!”

Her squeaky voice breaks me from my reverie, and I’ve never been more thankful to be grounded in the present.

As I pull her warm, perfect, tiny body into my arms, I pray for the memory to etch its way into my brain and trace itself in my arms. I pray that I will never forget what it felt like to hold something so perfect, and I’m so grateful that this girl is able to take my unconditional love for granted.

She won’t always be the perfect size for cuddling. But these memories of my baby will always be perfect.

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