I sifted through your "important things" bin today. Stashed under my bed, I have been tossing artwork and birthday cards and trinkets in there for years. I found your hospital bracelet from the day you were born.
I placed it in my palm and circled it back together… held it in the place where the nurse snipped it off and released you to me—in a way, for forever, but also for only a short time.I miss you already. It seems funny to say that when you're sitting right in front of me. But it wasn't so long ago that you couldn't sit at all. You learned how to do that, and then you learned how to do everything—to crawl and walk and run and jump. And sing and dance and climb.
You used to need me so much. You'd cry in the middle of the night, and even though I'd groan (and sometimes say a bad word under my breath), I sincerely cherished the times I was the one who fed you, who held you, who calmed you. It felt like an eternity before you slept through the night, but when I think back, it seems like only a brief moment in my life. Time is a funny thing.I miss you already.
How can I miss you? You're not gone. Oh, but it's coming. I know it. I feel it. Right around the corner are the days of Halloween parties in place of trick or treating. New Year's Eve sleepovers with friends in place of sipping sparkling cider in your footie pajamas. Birthday shopping sprees in place of themed parties with treat bags.I miss you already. Climbing on your dad's back for a transport to your bed will get awkward. You'll paint your own fingernails and will have your own lip gloss to wear—no need to swipe any from me. And before I know it, when I am the least ready as I'll ever be, your bright blue and pink roller skates will no longer be your favorite set of wheels. Instead of a First Communion dress—it will be a prom dress. And then maybe a wedding dress. How I miss you already. I knew from the beginning that you were going to grow. I wanted you to grow. But I had no idea how it would simultaneously thrill me and rip me to pieces watching you do it. Parenting is full of these paradoxes. A day can feel as long as a year, and year can pass in the blink of an eye. Everyone you meet will tell you this… from the little old ladies you stand with in line at the grocery store to the women who greet you at church to the mom shopping for jeans with her teenager. "It just goes by so fast."
I heard this phrase so often, and I smiled through gritted teeth as I watched you lick the handle of the shopping cart. I smiled when I wanted to cry as you broke something while we were browsing at the store. I smiled when I was counting down the minutes to nap time and the hours to bedtime. I smiled and nodded, but I didn't really get it then. Until one day when it all clicked.I miss you already. So tonight, while you were sleeping, I went to your room and counted your freckles. I gently tangled my fingers in your curls. I listened to you breathe. I sat beside your bed and tried to meet you in your dreams. We laughed and sang in silly voices and ate lots of ice cream and went to Disney World until it was time for me to go to my own room. I whispered, "I love you," in your ear, "I miss you already, my baby." This story was originally published on May 30, 2018.