Ok, I get it. You’re not a baby anymore. While I know that’s true with every fiber in my being, when I look at you, I can still see it. To my last child… this is it.
You’ve been half-raised by me and your daddy…and half-raised by your older siblings and their friends. You’ve spent your life napping in the car, eating snacks at soccer fields and running around with the “big kids.” Your life has never revolved around you. It’s been fast-paced, high-energy, unpredictable and loud. Yes, pretty much…always loud.
You’ve gotten to do everything earlier than the others because you live a life of tagging along. You saw Star Wars as a three year old. When you were just one, you slid down the huge yellow water slide at camp. You always climb to the highest spots at all the playgrounds. Simply because you saw them doing it. The first time you stepped foot into our neighborhood elementary school was before you could even walk. Their world is yours and it’s made you a special level of easy-going that I admire about you.
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But even though you’ve been thrown into the “big kid” world way earlier than the others were, you still reek of the baby years. So much of you is still like a baby. To my last child, this is it.
Your eyes when you’re tired…they’re a dead giveaway. The way you still mispronounce a couple of words and climb up into my lap and lean into my collarbone. You’re the only one still putting your shoes on the wrong feet and sleeping with your booty in the air. The only one requesting a pacifier. The only one who still needs to be pushed on the swings at the park.
This dissonance has caused me to look at you with a different awareness. An awareness that is so blaringly loud it sometimes feels like a punch in the gut. I don’t need to be told that the days are short, I am so literally aware that it will not be long until you are a big kid yourself.
So while I love each one of you so fiercely, I know that I’ve savored you more.
I’ve breathed you in and allowed you to cry for me in the middle of the night. I’ve wished away less of the inconvenient moments so that I could just hold onto a scent, a moment or a phase for just a little bit longer. I haven’t rushed you or wished for the next thing like I did with the others when we were literally in survival mode.
And oh, how I’ve counted the moments so much more.
See…every single one of your “lasts” is the last for me too. Sometimes it’s too much to take in at once.
There are so many doors that are closed by you when you say the word…whether I’m ready or not.
Baby-wearing. Breastfeeding. Stroller-riding. I held on to each of these longer with you until you finally said “enough”. When you grow out of things, they’re gone for good. Things I never thought our home would function without. The bouncer. The pack-n-play. The high chair. The stack of swaddles. My favorite tiny outfits. Each of your last times moves us into a new phase of life. And a bigger pile of baby gear donations.
Even your “firsts” are my lasts.
Your first steps were my last first steps.
Your first words were my last first words.
Your first day of kindergarten will be my last first day of kindergarten.
Every single milestone that you achieve is a mixture of celebration and sentiment for me.
Every single one is my last.
To my last child, with each last, I know without a doubt that you are exactly what our family needed. You have completed us so perfectly.
And so ok, I get it. I know you’re not a baby anymore. And while I know that’s true with every fiber in my being, when I look at you, I can still see it. And I maybe always will.
Photo Credit :: Lauren Samuels Photography