We’ve all heard it or said it…something along the lines of “he/she is growing up too fast!” Pre-baby, it was a phrase that was just a bunch of empty words, kind of like when you’re on a walk and a stranger passes by and says, “How are you?” … “Oh, I’m fine thank you, how are you?” Not a lot of thought, but it fits the situation, right?
It wasn’t until after I had a baby that I recognized the magnitude of that phrase. Truth be told, it was a battle for me during the earliest parts of Hadley’s new life.
While I had a relatively easy pregnancy, I can honestly say that the motherly instincts (/”I am actually having a baby”) didn’t hit me until 12:18am, when my baby was placed in my arms. I was pretty laid-back about pregnancy and the idea of being a mom. I wasn’t the mushy, rubbing my pregnant belly, mother-to-be that some can be (sidenote: now that I know how awesome the grand finale is, I probably will be next time!) Oh my, with each passing hour, if not minute, I realized what a gift my daughter truly was. Time took an entirely different meaning…each minute with her felt special…each day that I’d look back on seemed like the sweetest memory yet. I didn’t feel overwhelmed with being a new mom, I felt like my heart was full. It wasn’t until Hadley was a week old and I was excited to share a photo of her with a fitting caption, that I got hit with the “She’s a week old already! She’s growing up so fast!”
And then I began to hear that with any photo I would share. Or loved ones checking in on me. Or even strangers in the store. “Enjoy it while you can, they grow too fast!” I kid you not, I probably heard or read it at least 100 times….and it made me sad, every single time.
My nightly walks with my sweet husband (and baby, and dog) would consist of me crying crocodile tears of sadness, “Why can’t I slow down time? She’s already two weeks old! Her newborn nose wrinkle is going away and soon she wont look like a newborn! (yes, I said that!)” Time is a parent’s greatest gift and biggest heart-breaker.
It took some quiet walks, some quiet prayers, countless talks with my best friend in the whole world (who happens to be my husband, God bless his endless patience for my sensitive heart,) and many adoring gazes at my baby to come to this peace:
She isn’t growing too fast. She is growing just the way she is meant to. I am beyond blessed I get to have a baby to watch grow. I don’t want to lament over the loss of her youth with each passing day, but instead enjoy the beautiful soul that I get to watch grow with me. I don’t want to miss who she used to be, but revel in who she is. Sure, I will look at pictures of her when she was a month old and reminisce on the newness of her, the sleepy, snuggly glory of her, but then I look at my darling nine month old, with her three and a half teeth, chunky thighs, giggles, and my favorite: how excited she is when she sees me, even if I am out of her sight for a moment. How can I dwell on what she was, when I can savor who she is?
I still get told or written to all of the time of how fast she’s growing. I can happily embrace it; even laugh at it. It doesn’t hurt my feelings or make me anxious. After I came to the peace (explained above) I have been able to realize that perhaps, to the many that don’t get to see her so often, she is growing up fast. For those that only see her through the photos I share, living their day-to-day lives, she has gone from a newborn to a nine month old in what seems like a blink.
I will add, that I am careful to not wish time away. I don’t say or think to myself, “I can’t wait until Hadley can….” I’ve caught myself a few times, but then I see my girl bobbing her head to a song, or trying to feed the dog some of her Happy Puffs, and I think of the cheesy (but true) saying: “Today is a gift, that is why it is called the present.”
Every night, after she is bathed, fed, and read a story to, I lay her in her crib, hold her hand or rub her cheek, and say a prayer aloud, thanking God for giving me another beautiful day with such a special gift from Him. No day is taken for granted, even days where we are just home alone together, playing with toys, going on walks…these are the things that make me all the more in love with being a mother.
Coming to grips with time is a beautiful thing: it stops you from missing the past and wishing away your future; to just enjoying what you have right in front of you.