I tucked my daughter in tonight far past her normal bedtime. Her papa is traveling for work this week and it’s been just us Three Musketeers and we’ve made the most of every single second. But between the children’s museum, preschool, play dates and the playground, it’s hard to fit everything in before their usual 7:30 p.m. turndown. So as the nights have stayed light a little longer, I’ve begun to push that deadline back just a little so they can make just a few more memories.
As she curled up with her back against my belly, I smoothed back her hair and started telling her a story. It’s the same one I’ve whispered to her to help her fall asleep since she was a newborn nursing in my arms in a rocking chair in her dark nursery down the hall. I tell her to imagine she and I are dancing in the field behind our house. It’s full of wild daisies and we’re spinning around and around. We fall back and look at the clouds and name the shapes one by one until the last one fades from view. Then, we take a nap under the stars and wake up to a beautiful sunrise. By the time I get to that last part, she’s inevitably out and I’m a puddle of nostalgia in the covers beside her.
It’s hard to discern exactly when she changed into this creature who can hold a conversation better than some adults I know (myself included). Was it when we made the transition into her big girl room? We left the kids with my parents and my husband and I loaded my childhood sofa onto the back of his pickup. I rode in the back with the tailgate down to steady it and we drove all the way home in the cold autumn air, then heaved it up the stairs to surprise her. We gave her his grandmother’s antique bed and I bought the most colorful and bright linens I could find for it.
Was that it? Was that when the change happened? Or was it when she was suddenly in a different medical age bracket? I could suddenly give her 5 milliliters of medicine instead of just 3.5. She could start using big kid toothpaste that the pediatric dentist gave to her instead of just the water we’d been brushing with. I could now use an essential oil diffuser in her room without hesitation and she could go six months without a checkup and be just fine.
Or maybe it was when she started pronouncing “spaghetti” correctly. Thankfully, she’s still holding onto a few of her baby-isms and I’m forever grateful. She still asks “whobody” instead of “who” (which makes total sense) and every time she says it I see her, nine months old, teetering over to me in the kitchen of our old rental house, leaning down to kiss my toes. She’s got a pink flowery bandana tied up in her baby hair and a yellow onesie on. That memory exists only in a photograph now but I still have a hard time reconciling the fact that the sweet-faced, blue-eyed baby girl who wasn’t quite walking yet is the same girl as the hilarious, whip-smart runner with long bangs and hazel eyes sleeping in the room above me.
Time is a funny thing. You want your babies to grow up and see the world and realize how many beautiful things it has to offer but you want to keep them little and under your roof for as long as possible too. It moves at a lightning pace and there are sometimes I can’t wait for bath time because it means the day is almost up. I rush it and push it and count the seconds and pray they will fly by. The hardest part of all? Most of the time, they do.