Her little hand still tucks into mine when crossing the street, but she pulls away as soon as she senses it’s safe.
Today I discovered I can no longer hold her around my hip with one arm under her. I just realized this because it’s been a while since she’s asked for “uppy”– the requests for being held are dwindling.
My baby is five now. Full of big words, big thoughts, big dreams. Soon Gracie will tell me not to call her my baby, because she’s a Big Girl.
How did she go from baby to toddler to preschooler so fast?
“Cherish these moments,” they said to me. “They grow so quickly,” they lectured.
I shrugged off these admonishments over the last few years as I struggled with the 1am colic, the continuous sleepless nights, and the endless tantrums over wearing clothing.
Cherish this stuff? Really? I thought, as I read Corduroy for the forty-seventh time, fruitlessly hoping Gracie would not scream bloody murder at 2am that night.
I don’t miss those times with her. At all. Much of Gracie’s first three years are a blur of PPD-colored exhaustion tinged with some happy moments. But as I’ve watched her grow so quickly over the last few months, it’s the happy times that are at the forefront of my mind.
One of my favorite moments with Gracie was when she was three days old. We were in the hospital. It was 5am. We had just finished a nursing session and it was quiet. Just me and her, snuggling alone for the first time. She already looked like herself. She was Gracie. And she was perfect.
I remember how was she was curled up like that on me. So small. So warm. I picked her up, cuddled her into my chest, and we snoozed. It was true love.
I have fond memories of Gracie’s baby chuckles, big goofy toothless grins, daring table-climbing escapades, and uncertain first steps.
And oh, the early birthday parties. Gracie’s second birthday party was a labor of love that reflected her fondness for primates and her prized monkey rain boots. Her third was a homage to Dora on an unusually temperate late October day. She twirled in her long pink tutu and new Dora shirt and played preschool party games with the zest only a new three-year-old has.
There were wobbly first bike rides and surprisingly accurate soccer kicks. The first thrills of drippy popsicles and freezing cold pools. The magic of a inaugural Disney trip and the beauty of a first beach trip.
There were definitely great things about those first few years…
…but still, I don’t want to go back.
There were more days than I care to admit when I was wishing my way out of Gracie’s early years. Now, those tough days are fading while the sweet times are cementing themselves in my memory. Basically, I’m picking which moments to cherish and letting the rest go. Isn’t that the privilege of motherhood?
We’re at a really good stage now. Gracie is still full of little kid innocence and joy. Yet she’s finally big enough for a family game night that doesn’t involve Candy Land (thank GOD) and old enough to happily play in her room on her own for an hour or so (heaven on a Sunday afternoon).
I’ll enjoy this magical blend of little girl-big girl while I can. Getting to enjoy flashes of each gives me the best of both worlds for a fleeting moment in time. This age is full of moments to cherish. And at this time of year, that is something to be truly thankful for.
The other night Gracie pulled out Corduroy and waved the book with glee. “Mommy, let’s read this one. We haven’t read it since I was four!”
And I smiled as she snuggled into me, still fitting. For now.
Were your kids tough when they were little? What good memories do you carry with you from those times?
PS: Like this? Then you’ll love my essay in the new book, I STILL Just Want to Pee Alone! Check it out!