The other day I was rushing to get out of the house with my three children, and whatever could go wrong was going wrong.
My 21-month-old was melting down over putting her hat on, I had just buckled my newborn into her seat when I heard the unmistakable sound of a poop-splosion, and my almost 4-year-old was laser focused on an incredibly intense art project with no shoes on. I was on my fifth “put your shoes on” request when I lost it.
This whole situation felt hopeless.
It wasn’t a yell, but I did raise my voice a bit to make this final shoe request seem serious. Because my oldest daughter was so zoned in on what she was doing, I completely startled her. She started crying sad, sad tears. “Mommy! You just scared me! Why did you do that?” she said in between breaths.
It was like she jolted me out of a fog.
I sat down and cried with her as I scooped her into my arms.
In this moment it hit me—my preschooler is still so young. She’s still so small. She’s still my baby. How could I be so stern with her?
To be fair—it’s easy to forget how little she is because she basically looks like a college kid now while holding her newest baby sister.
It’s easy to forget how little she is when her negotiation tactics are on par with professional crisis negotiators.
It’s easy to forget how little she is because she’s becoming so confident and doing more and more for herself every day.
Her younger sister, my 21-month-old daughter, somehow transformed from a baby to a toddler overnight. She is the director of our family—she’s fierce and she knows what she wants. (Sometimes it seems like she’s almost 20, not almost 2.)
But then the other day she looked up at me with her big bright eyes and said, “Mommy, will you lay with meeee?” in her beautiful sing-song way—and there I was, hit again—my toddler is still my baby no matter how fast she is growing and changing.
It’s easy to forget how little my middle daughter is now that she is a proud big sister to our 7-week-old and wants to carry her around the house.
It’s easy to forget how little she is now that she has found her voice—and lots of demands/requests along with it!
It’s easy to forget how little she is now that she’s officially sized out of all her baby clothing and is wearing her big sister’s hand-me-downs.
But I don’t want to forget.
I want to remember.
And now, with the arrival of our third daughter, I’ve received a beautiful reminder of how fast time moves. Afterall, I’ve watched my first newborn zoom into toddlerhood and magically turn into a preschooler all in the blink of an eye.
Where has the time gone?
While holding my 7-week-old daughter today, as she (adorably) cooed and smiled up at me, I was overcome with emotion. Happiness. Love. Gratitude.
It’s was a moment where I realized I really, really wish my magical superpower was the ability to freeze time.
So I could keep my three girls little.
Because one day I am going to blink again and they’re going to be as tall as me talking about guys they’re dating and colleges they’re applying to.
Because as Eleanor Roosevelt so eloquently said, “Today is the oldest you’ve ever been, and the youngest you’ll ever be again.”
Because today is the littlest each of my babies will be.
So for today I beg time to be on my side.
Today, after my newborn fell asleep on my chest, I held her the whole time she slept and listened to her tiny little snores—because she’ll never be this little again.
Today, when my toddler asked me to pick her up, I carried her into the house even though she could get there herself—because she’ll never be this little again.
Today, my preschooler wanted to explain to me (in depth) the picture she drew, so I stopped what I was doing to give her my full attention. I ooh-ed and ahh-ed and listened intently—because she’ll never be this little again.
Today, my newborn nursed and nursed and nursed. I continuously had to stop what I was doing to feed her, and I reminded myself that now is the time to enjoy these moments where we get to sit down and pause together—because she’ll never be this little again.
Today, my toddler napped so peacefully in her crib, sucking on her pacifier, clutching her teddy bear tight to her chest. I crept in quietly to peek at her and studied her rosy cheeks and chubby little fingers. I want to memorize everything about her—because she’ll never be his little again.
Today, my preschooler asked me if I would dance with her, so we blasted the music and jumped and laughed and enjoyed every second of it—because she’ll never be this little again.
Today, I bathed my newborn, my toddler, and my preschooler. I washed their hair and dried them off when they were done. I reflected on the day—no matter their age, they each needed me today in their own way.
Before they went to bed, I held each daughter in my arms and said goodnight. I thought about how much they’re growing every day. And changing every minute. And becoming more and more of a person every second.
And they won’t always be this little.
And I won’t always be this needed.
And that breaks my heart a little bit.
But…it’s also incredible. And life-affirming. Because these people we’ve created and we’re raising are amazing and talented and funny and adventurous. We have the privilege of watching them grow and change and develop right before our eyes.
And it does happen fast. So right now? Right now I’m going to hold them as much as possible.
Because they’ll never be this little again.