It feels like yesterday, your father drove us home that hot, sticky July afternoon. You, locked into your car seat, sitting in the backseat, it was all so new and surreal. No one had ever sat back there before, and the last time I was in this car, we were just a family of two. I had to keep looking back at you, making sure that you were really there, afraid that maybe the last forty weeks were a dream.
That fifteen-minute drive home changed my life. The old Grand Prix we were driving was just fine for the two of us, but now, with you, it didn’t feel safe for our precious cargo. By the time your father turned that old car down our street I said, “Let’s go out and get a new car this afternoon”. A car purchase was something that I had been internally fighting during my entire pregnancy. I feared such a big expense during a time when we had no idea how a new baby would affect the budget. In time, we ended up with a minivan, something that the whole family, dogs included, could pile into and be safe.
You have grown so much since then. You are almost seven months old. We no longer have sleepless nights or midnight feedings. I have returned to work so long ago that it seems as if I had never had a leave. You eat cereal now and veggies too. You toss your toys to the ground faster than I can hand them back to you. Last week I had to peel you out of your pink sparkly pants that Grandma bought for you. I had waited months for you to grow into them! How could they be too small now? This has all happened so fast and now, as of yesterday, many of your baby things have been packed up.
It started with the swing, an isolated incident I thought. I looked at you one day and you were overflowing from the seat and your legs were dangling out. While packing it up I remembered day your dad set it up. When we first put your tiny little body into the seat, at the lowest speed it swung you around so fast that it was like you were on a carnival ride. I, maybe being too over protective, insisted that we packed it up for a while until you were bigger.
When I eventually brought it back out you were instantly in love! There were many afternoons when would sit back and watch you drift into a peaceful sleep. Again, probably being too over protective, I felt guilty letting you sit in it for long. I would spend my time running over to turn it off. I always hoped you wouldn’t notice, but you did, and I being a slave to all of your needs, I would turn it back on. I laugh now, thinking back to those final days, they couldn’t have been much fun, you were so big, the fastest speed barely moved you back and forth.
Next came the bathtub. During your last bath you kept screaming. I was so concerned because bath time was always enjoyable for us. It wasn’t until it was time to wash your feet did I realize that your poor little toes were lodged up and underneath a plastic piece of the tub. How could you be too big for the bathtub, and how am I so inexperienced at this mothering thing to have not noticed until now?
I should have seen the signs. Your hooded towels no longer fit and you had been craving a little bit more room to splash around in. Now, after experimenting with a different bathtub and one of those plastic bathtub rings, we have settled into taking big girl baths. I’m not sure what you think about it, but I love it! You’re so independent splashing around like you have been at it your entire life.
There were other warning signs too, I had to pack up all your clothes from 0–3 to 3–6 and even some of your 6–9’s. Yet I really wasn’t prepared for a real car seat. Your father and I clung to the infant carrier like there was no tomorrow. I knew for months it was time to switch, but I just kept putting it out of my mind. Now you will sit in the big kid seat in the grocery store cart, the same one that I remember sitting in when I was young. No more lifting that big red latch to release you from the grocery cart, the stroller, or the base that was left in the car.
My baby now gets to see what is really going on in the world. I know, you have been obsessing over it for months. You love it all though and the smile across your face squeals with excitement and you flap your arms up and down. I just know soon you will be showing us how you can click the seat belt yourself, and how you can jump from the van to the ground without falling. Soon, your precious baby talk will be replaced with the sounds of ‘dad’ and ‘mom’, and the toys that you now play with, shapes, colors and textures, will be swapped for Barbie dolls, princess dress up shoes, and fruity lip-gloss.
Today though, right now, these moments are also memories in the making. I pause to say prayer and remind myself to practice the balance of preparing for the future while holding tight of the present. May I capture every important moment on film or video, but have the wisdom to put down the camera down and experience the joy that you are at this very moment. I know I am blessed to be your mom.