“Mommy, can I hold you?” She holds her arms up in the air, opening and closing her tiny hands and batting those gorgeous blue eyes at me. The answer is always yes. I scoop her up and she lays her curly blonde head on my shoulder. “I love you, mommy.” My insides turn to jelly.
She’s my girl. My Anna. Twenty-six pounds of sweetness and spunk.
The youngest of five, Anna is naturally spoiled. From the moment she was born, people have fawned over her–me, her daddy, her sister, her brothers, her grandparents, church members, strangers in the street. Really, it’s beyond ridiculous. We’re creating a monster but I can’t bring myself to stop telling her how beautiful and smart she is. I can’t help holding her every time she asks. I can’t help marveling over every little thing she does. I can’t help it because I know she’s the last baby I’ll ever have. I can’t help it because I know in the blur of raising her older brothers and sister, I missed valuable moments. The guilt of that is overwhelming, though I know it’s not a unique experience to me. All mothers, especially young mothers, get lost in the lack of sleep, the frustration, the uncertainty of parenting. By the time we learn to relax and just go with it, our babies aren’t babies anymore. We’ve missed the joy. Anna is my chance to recapture it.
When I held her as a newborn and smelled that sweet baby head, when she smiled at me for the first time, when she said her first word, took her first steps, tasted her first lemon, gave herself her first haircut, I remembered my other children doing the same things. When she says, “Look at me!” and does a dance or makes a funny face, I remember all the performances I’ve watched over the last thirteen years. She’s my trip down memory lane. I thought those memories were gone, but with every new thing Anna does, they rise to the surface, whispering, “Remember when…?”
With my last child, as with my first, I’m learning how to be a parent. This time, it’s not about when and what to feed them, how often to change diapers, when to call the doctor, or when to put them to bed. It’s about spending time with them, listening to their stories, and marveling at their accomplishments. It’s about watching them grow into the people they’re going to be and seeing all the little things that brought them there.
It’s about living in the moment.
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