Tonight, I witnessed some firsts. I watched my baby, just 1 year old, squeal in delight as she chased the bubbles through the yard for the first time, smiling and running as fast as her little legs would take her. Her older brother blew them right into her face, and she couldn't stop giggling. The bubbles glistened, iridescent in the warm summer sun, as they danced on the breeze. The kids found a bright-green ball, discarded by my sister's older children (now almost 12 and 15) and decided to make a game of rolling it to one another. The baby leaned on it, trying to grip it, and rolled to the ground. The ball seemed determined to escape the grasp of her chubby fingers. I stood and took it all in—the squealing, the laughing, the pure joy on their faces—trying to log it in my memory as the first time my children played with a ball and bubbles together as siblings, the first summer my daughter ran through grass that was wet from a recent summer storm, and the first, and certainly not the last, time they ran carefree in my sister's yard. But these firsts will eventually change to lasts. Like the ball escaping my daughter's fingers, time slips away from me each day, despite my best efforts to hold onto it.
As I watched them play, relishing in the sight of the love my two children feel for one another, I knew that the day was coming to an end, and the nighttime shuffle was about to begin. My body felt the weight of what was to come—the baths, the bedtime stories, the holding of my daughter and the laying with my son. It goes on for hours each night. And despite my frustration on some nights, I do my best to remember that soon this will all happen for the last time. Maybe not today or next week or even next year, but there will be a day when I wish I could watch my children play in the yard or snuggle with them as they fall asleep. Because, even already on some nights, my son doesn't ask me to read to him at all or he's reading books to me. The first books I read to him at bedtime have turned into the first books he's reading to me. And the baby crawled early for the first time, at not even 6 months old. Now, she's a walker, and I just realized that I haven't seen her crawl for weeks. I waited and waited for my son to call me "Mama" five years ago, and now, the times he refers to me as Mama are dwindling. When will it be the last time? These firsts have turned to lasts right before my very eyes.
So, in honor of these inevitable lasts, I held my baby for a while after she fell asleep. I listened to her breathing and kissed her tiny lips. I held her close, savoring this time, which sometimes seems like an eternity but is truly fleeting. I carried my big boy to his bed, realizing that soon, I won't be able to carry him at all. After he had been asleep for a while, I crept back into his room and kissed his head. There will be a day when I wish I could walk in his room and kiss his sweet, blonde head. There will be a day when I wish I had a baby who would only fall asleep in my arms. For now, they are here, experiencing so many firsts, just like me. And for tonight, I felt like time did stand still, just long enough for me to savor the moment.
Kara Lawler is a mother, wife and teacher. She writes about the divide that is mothering our children while also mothering our spirit and the sacred on her blog, Mothering the Divide. Kara writes for the Huffington Post and has been featured on the Today Show's social media sites. She's been published on Scary Mommy, Club Mid, and Mamalode. Come, join her tribe on Facebook.