When you are in the middle of creating your family the idea of ever having a time when there won’t be somebody needing a diaper or needing a bottle or needing something will never happen. It feels like this marathon to which there is no finish line. When you’ve stopped having children, in that moment, somebody starts the stopwatch and your time begins to tick down. Every day is one less day you will have with your kids. Every last shoe that you tie is one less you will do in the future. Suddenly there is a finish line, and it feels like it is rushing towards you faster than you ever imagined. Perhaps I’m more aware because I’m an older mother, perhaps this is the natural progression of parenthood. I don’t know, I just wish my kids didn’t have to get any older and that time could stop right now.
You just turned 10 years old. You keep trying to convince me that this makes you a “pre-teen” but I refuse to acknowledge the term or the classification. This has frustrated you to no end and is quite symbolic of how you feel — one foot firmly stuck in childhood and one pulling you into adolescence. You have ushered into an age of fear. You are worried about EVERYTHING. The world has become this large, scary place that both excites you and frightens you. You are as likely to tell me that you want to go hang gliding as you are to tell me that you are scared of the dark. You want to know about the origin of mankind but also blindly believe in the Tooth Fairy. You will back talk me one second and reach for my hand the next.
Although this yin-yang of your personality is challenging and quite perplexing it is also the dynamic that I admire most about you. Because if I had to choose one word to describe you Lucy it would be courageous. Yes, you are scared and fearful and worried but that doesn’t stop you. I’ve seen you stay strong, in the face of what would be paralyzing fear in others. This inner strength, this lioness that lurks deep within you is your most amazing quality. It is your strength paired with your delicate sensitivities and natural nurturing personality that has you defending your baby sister one second and holding her hand the next.
Although I have begun to mourn the passing of your childhood I eagerly await the young woman you are about to become, because you will amaze the world.
You turned 8 this year and although I struggle to keep up with your age I can no longer ignore it. You’ve grown so much physically and emotionally that I’m starting to see hints of what you will be like as a man. Your big bear hugs are becoming less common as you become aware of the fact that it isn’t cool to hug your Mom. Your tears flow less often, with your frustration now being expressed as anger. Your stutter is still there but you seem to be less self conscious of it. You have struggled to figure out who you are but I’m starting to see your strengths bubble to the surface. You’ve developed a love of robotics and engineering. You want to know how things work, how they break, how they are built and are fascinated with any toy or tool that reinforces this idea.
In many ways you are getting to be a big boy, wanting to play rough with your friends, stay home by yourself and do other “big boy” things and yet so much of “little Max” is still there that I can’t help but to still baby you. Your tears break my heart and your frustrations are mine to carry. I protect you far more aggressively than your confident sister. And perhaps, just perhaps, I baby you too much.
Your physical body can barely contain your personality. You may only be four but everybody who meets you knows there is no doubt about who you are. Although you have all the traditional markings of a four year old; stubbornness, fierceness, and a need for things to be YOUR way it is the non-typical things that I adore. You have a strong streak of sympathy and your apologies and regrets at hurt feelings flow freely. Your absolute obsession with all things medical to the point where you insist on accompanying EVERYBODY to EVERY doctor’s appointment. You admire the doctor’s instruments and comment, “they are sooooo beautiful”. You have such a strong desire to be “a part of” every conversation or activity that you just talk over everybody — total nonsense pours out of your mouth — but you are part of the conversation and that is all that matters.
Most importantly, you are my third and my last and therefore I wallow in your babyhood. The way you smell, the softness of your skin, the innocent comments, the clumsy hugs and freely shared kisses — all will disappear before I know it. And when you leave these things behind so will I and therefore I am in no hurry for you to grow up. I’ve not set a deadline for you to stop sucking your thumb. I’m in no rush to force you to give up diapers. You can not know your letters and shapes and colors a bit longer. And yet, the irony is that all of these things are happening faster with you than the first two because you are the last. You are sprinting through your toddlerhood in an effort to keep up with your big sister and brother just as I clamor to hold you back.
My dearest Harper, please stay a baby a little longer. Please stay curled in my lap a little longer. Please let me nuzzle your head a little longer.