My niece turns 5 years old today.
If I think about it long enough, I will break down and sob … so I can only imagine how her parents feel.
She is not the first in our family to cross this threshold from the baby and toddler days into official childhood–I have three nephews who are older–but she is the oldest girl. As the mom of two younger daughters, I’ve been watching her, as she has always been a step ahead of my own.
My oldest is now 2.5, the age my niece was when she was born. And that was just yesterday.
Because I certainly remember my sweet, curly-haired niece tenderly and cautiously getting her first peek at her “Baby Olivia” in the hospital, just like no time has passed at all.
And yet it has. My daughter now wears the hand-me-downs that my niece wore when that baby girl was cradled in my arms.
And I realize I will blink again, and my daughter will be celebrating the same milestone my niece is today.
Time, I beg you, please stop.
But since I know it won’t (sigh), I need to.
It is so easy in the never-ending list of things-that-must-get-done-right-this-second to say “not now,” “in a minute,” or “just after this” … or dream for and long for the things I want to do but can’t … and miss out on the best parts of this time with our littles. These ordinary moments that are shaping an extraordinary life that we get to watch, if we allow ourselves to do so, unfold.
So today, I am pledging to not get frustrated when things don’t go according to “plan.” I am not going to focus on the “what ifs” and the “wish I coulds.” I will stop and savor moments like:
- The smile that instantly brightens my 6-month-old’s face when I get her from the crib
- The way my toddler throws her arms around my neck with a fierce grip as I guide her legs into her pants
- Running the brush through my daughter’s long, “luscious” (as my husband likes to call them) waves to get her morning “tanglies” out
- Her small voice calling out, “Mommy, help you please?” when she can’t quite do a task herself
- Dancing in the great room
- Baby giggles
- Crawling under the tent we just made to eat a snack and read her Bible stories
- The slow, rhythmic breaths of concentration as my toddler studies something new
- The lullabies of a proud big sister softly sung to her little sis as she prepares for nap
- The way my baby looks while she sleeps
Everyday moments that are wondrous and awe-inspiring when strung together.
This morning, my toddler paused at the top of the steps and said, “Mommy, can you hold my hand?”
I was already at the bottom. I turned and climbed again to the top and held my hand out. I felt it fill with hers, and we started down.
She took two steps and looked up at me. She spoke in a voice just above a whisper.
“Mommy, thank you for holding my hand.”
I swallowed the rock in my throat.
In that moment, nothing else I “had” to do mattered. In that moment, there was nothing better.
I hope I always stop and reach for her hand when extended.
For I know I will miss it–oh, how I will miss it–when it’s gone.
“I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart …” (Psalms 138:1)