Thursday, February 28, 2013

Memories that Matter

Reese at 4 months
Lately I've noticed that it has become harder and harder for me to lift Reese. I usually only carry her long enough to comfort a boo boo or to transport her sleeping body from the car to her room, and the days of loading the dishwasher and making dinner with her on my hip are long gone. I suppose I could take it as a sign of just how out of shape I am now that I haven't set foot on my treadmill in over six months (which could be part of it, but in my defense, people always ask me if she's four because she's so tall). What it really means, though, is that she's becoming more of a kid and less of a baby or even a toddler.

Next fall, she will start preschool two mornings a week. She doesn't want me in the room while she goes potty (which is often because she wants to unravel the entire roll of toilet paper without interruption, but still). She is now fully conversational in her speech, and sometimes she calls me "mom." When she was a baby I remember wondering what she would be like as a kid, and as much as I love getting to know her more and more each day, I really miss that baby.

Compared to her older sister, Allie is a stage five clinger. Reese was always pretty independent, and she never had those typical toddler meltdowns when I left her in the care of anyone else. Allie will likely be the opposite. She wants to be held all the time, and I get very little done while she is awake. I spend most of my day with her strapped to my chest and most of the night with her in bed beside me. I rarely did this with Reese. Sure, I held her a lot, but if I had to do something that would be easier with two free hands, I set her down and she was usually content.

I've spent a lot of time complaining about my inability to set Allie down for more than just a few minutes at a time, and I've spent even more time complaining about her refusal to sleep soundly anywhere except snuggled up beside me in the bed that I always said would be reserved only for Matt and I. Now, as I see the baby inside Reese fading further into my memory, I'm trying to spend more time cherishing these days and less time waiting to have my hands free and my side of the bed back to myself.

When I was pregnant with Reese, the most common piece of advice I got from other moms was "take a lot of pictures and cherish every moment because it goes by fast." Other than the taking pictures part, I don't know that I really took this advice to heart or that I realized just how fast it would go. Sometimes as I carry Reese in from the car or snuggle next to her in bed, I flip through a montage of memories of the baby she used to be, and I find myself wishing for the ability to go back and do it all again.

Last week we notice that Allie has started teething, and now she's clinging to me even more. She fussy and demanding, and sometimes I get tired of it. Then Reese comes up and says, "Hold me, Mommy." I strain ever so slightly as I lift her to my hip, but I never turn down her request because someday I won't be able to lift her at all. Finally I set her down because Allie is crying to be held again. I lift Allie to my hip and notice the difference in ease, and then I look into her four-month-old eyes and I know that my days with this baby are numbered.

Every time I lift Reese, I realize just how fast these years are going by. So instead of searching for the light at the end of the teething tunnel, I'm staying in the moment as much as possible. I'm cherishing the way she chews on my finger and the comfort only my arms can provide.

As with every stage of life, the hard part will come to an end, but it takes the good parts with it too. Someday, all that will be left is an imaginary montage reel of memories and the best way to preserve precious moments with our babies to make sure those reels are loaded with as many good memories as possible.  

1 comment:

  1. Yes ... I do this often with my now 5.5 year old. I can still snapshots of his babyness in my mind. He was my clinger. I spent hours and entire days holding him and rocking him. My mother in law told me to soak it up because it wouldn't last. So I did as dishes piled and the house was terribly cluttered. But boy do I love remembering rocking that little bundle he was. :-)

    Do you have a baby carrier? Both my boys were sling babies because of wanting to be held often.