Lately when I look at my two year old my heart hurts. She’s turning 3 next month, and I am just wanting to cherish every last slipping-away second of her babyhood. I know it is a stretch to call a two year old a baby. But I’ve always done it with my little ones. It’s not til the third birthday that I force myself to realize they’re not babies anymore. I always have a terrible time with third birthdays. Why on earth does the time have to roar by like a freight train?
Yesterday afternoon I took most of the kids for a walk. I asked my two year old if she wanted to walk or ride in the stroller. She wanted to walk, but then 2/3 of the way through the walk she was getting tired and started to whine. I knelt down to give her a hug, and in a petulant mood, she turned away. But after a second she softened in my arms and wrapped her arms around my neck. We just sat there like that, hugging for the longest moment. I was motionless, soaking in the sunshine and the feel of her sweet baby arms around my neck and her body molded into mine. When she finally released me, I asked her if she wanted a piggy back ride. She surprised me by saying, “No, I hold your hand.” And so we walked on, hand in hand for a moment until she regained her energy and ran ahead, making me trot to stay close enough to keep her safe.
How could she be three when it seems just a few months ago that I brought her home from Ethiopia– 15 pounds and 6 months old, noodle-legged and unable to sit up? For that matter, how can it be 13 years since I last gave birth to a child, to my son who is now a handsome teenager taller than me? And my firstborn, my precious Eldest, off in the world doing her own thing? Yes, she comes home on the weekends, but much of her life these days is separate from my own. Wasn’t it just a couple years ago that I called my mom, frantically, ridiculously postpartum with her, begging mom to come watch the baby so I could get a shower? How can her whole childhood be gone already?
I am so proud of the wonderful people my children are, so eager to see what they’ll do in this world. And yet each step onward and upward also rips away at my heart, like barnacles torn off a boat. Why does it have to hurt so much to see them grow?