I met a woman a couple weeks ago who asked me how old my daughter was. “It goes so fast, doesn’t it?” she asked me. I agreed wholeheartedly. It’s one of those cliché things people say that really is so true. She went on to tell me a story about how her now teenage daughter used to mispronounce the word “bubblegum”, something this woman thought was completely adorable. She went on to say “Then one day I realized she was saying it correctly. And I realized she would never say it the ‘old way’ again.” The moment was gone, just like that. Without warning.
We never know when that moment is coming. We just get to recognize it in retrospect when we notice its absence.
They are the moments that change our lives forever that we didn’t see coming. The moment I stared in complete shock at two pink lines appearing on a home pregnancy test. And just like that, my life was inescapably different.
They are the moments we look back and didn’t realize would be the “last” of something. The last break-up before we met the love of our lives. The last conversation you had with your grandmother before she passed away.
Some moments we recognize as being the “last” of something. I remember walking through my last college apartment I shared with my best friends, touching the walls in each room and sitting on the empty living room floor as I watched their cars pulling out of the parking lot while they wiped tears from their eyes. We all knew that was it. We were closing a chapter in our lives we would never return to. I was able to anticipate that moment. To plan for it. To savor my last days living under the same roof as my best friends, relatively responsibility free. To etch in my memory and hold in my hands the last moments like that – taking a mental snapshot of “this is it.”
Every couple months I pack up a little more of Gia’s baby stuff. I fold up each little onesie and put it in a cardboard box. I don’t know what is in my future, if I will ever have another child who will wear this. As I toss her pacifiers away I wonder to myself, when did she stop taking a pacifier? When did she cross that off the list of things she is ‘over’?
When is she going to turn to me and say she doesn’t want me to help her with bathtime anymore? When is the last time I am going to read her a story on my lap or the last time she reaches her little arms out to me when she is upset?
So this morning when I went to get her up for the day, she was already standing up in her crib waiting for me. I scooped her up and she lay her head on my shoulder and gripped her tiny hands into my arm and around my neck. And I just stood there and held her. It was a twenty minute moment that someday will be gone. There will come a time she is too big to be scooped up from a crib and too busy to want to lay in my arms for twenty minutes. There will come a day when I can’t pick her up and cradle her at all anymore. And just like that, the moment will be over.
So this morning I held on to my bubblegum moment.