The day has come. The sticky parts of the velcro straps no longer reach the fuzzy parts when they’re on her feet. They’re too small.
Up until this point, everything else that has become too small has immediately been thrown in a box and passed along to another kid who can use it. During my four years of being a parent, I haven’t been saving a box of special clothes that I couldn’t part with. I didn’t always understand why other people kept so much. They’re just clothes, right?
But these. After taking them off her feet, and replacing them with a bigger pair, I picked them up and stared at them. My heart surprised me with a pang!. I could not throw them in the box and give them away. This pair is special.
Before having kids the whole parents-being-sad-because-their-kids-were-growing-up thing never made any sense to me. Aren’t they supposed to grow up? Aren’t you happy your kid is growing like a weed, fit as a fiddle? And now I have my answer. Of course, we’re happy about that.
But it still makes us sad.
A few weeks ago I was at my mother-in-law’s house and my youngest, the youngest of all the grandchildren, ran behind the other kids, following closely behind them. She could finally keep up. We looked at each other and gave that little smile where the corners of your mouth go down and she said to me, “No more babies”. I frowned and nodded and we hugged. My oldest noticed our exchange and asked why we were sad. We explained as well as we could and since that day she periodically looks at me with a solemn expression and slowly shakes her head as she says, “No more babies, Mama. You’re not having any more babies”.
No matter that I am not trying to have any more babies, that I am, in fact, trying not to have any more babies. My heart ignores that kind of logic.
The other day I was at home with just the baby and we got to enjoy some alone time.
“What do you want to do now?” I asked her.
She wanted to play with her socks; she pointed to the pair she had just pulled from her feet and tossed next to the stove. I picked up the socks and brushed off the hairs and dust that were attached to the fabric and handed them to her. She tried to put them back on her feet. After about 3 seconds of trying, she got frustrated.
“You can! It’s hard!”
“I can!” She tried again but still struggled.
“Pull the edge open, then push your foot in.”
And then I saw her do it. She put on her own sock for the first time.
“YOU DID IT!”
“I DID IT!”
And then she did the other one.
“YOU DID IT!!!!”
“I DID IT!”
We both squealed and high-fived and she ran in circles, doing her weird little off-balance two-footed jump in the air. I seriously almost cried. I imagined what it would look like if a friend of mine came to the door at that instant. I was disheveled and smelly because I had snuck in a quick workout and I probably had dust bunnies stuck to my yoga pants from sitting on my unkempt floor. It would be hard to fully explain the greatness of that moment.
But, that’s what parenting is. Sitting on the filthy kitchen floor, in your sweaty workout clothes, with unbrushed hair, watching your one-year-old play with stinky socks. Jubilantly watching your one-year-old play with stinky socks.
She about killed me when she came back wearing a skirt from the dress up box, telling me “I can’t!” again, because she couldn’t pull the skirt up over her bum. I showed her how to do it and she practiced taking the skirt on and off and on and off. Each adamant, “I can’t!” ended up with the exclamation, “I can!” and “I did it!”
Each milestone that is achieved and each pair of shoes that is grown out of brings with it a pang! Because that’s the last time I get to witness the mastery of that particular experience. It’s over. Gone forever. And while some days and weeks and years might seem long sometimes, I know that I only have so many moments of these left.
I’m going to miss seeing every “I did it!” I’m going to miss witnessing the life events and the growth happen right in front of my eyes. I’m going to miss being included as a part of that process. Even though it will be as it should be, as it needs to be, it will still bring a pang! to be so much further removed.
My babies are growing up. No more babies.