Walking out of Target this morning, Reese & I hand in hand, he looked up and said "Mommy, will you marry me?" Who knows what made him ask this, where his mind was & what he was thinking about. He tells me often that he wants me to be his wife when he grows up (and Daddy will be our son). It didn't hit me until today though, that what if that was the last time he said that?
We always celebrate, record in baby books, and take pictures of our childrens' firsts--teeth, steps, words, teams, classes, friends, hair cuts, shoes. But what about the lasts? When will his last afternoon nap be? When will be the last time he rides in his car seat? Who will be his last Super Hero? When will be the last time he wants to wear just his underwear to ride his bike outside? Those hit harder because you just never know WHEN the last will be.
Reese has LOVED, and I mean LOVED, his pacis since he was hours old! Four years later, they are still a very beloved part of his resting time. But we're now down to just two...he's started chewing them and they're getting holes. He's almost happy to give Mommy the paci with a hole to throw away. But now there's only two...and we're not buying any more once they're gone. He says he'll be "bigger" once they're gone.
But the other day, when I couldn't find what I thought was the last paci, I got sad thinking that maybe we were done with the last paci. How silly is that? For years, Mommy has been ready for the pacis to go. But when it actually came time to say goodbye, I didn't feel prepared. That little icon of Reese's "babyhood" gone before I had grasped that "last."
I find that when I watch videos of Reese's baby days, I wish I had cherished that last wobbly-legged stroll across the carpet, because it soon turned into a quick run. I wish I had held onto those beautiful bonding moments of nursing, because Reese weaned himself before I knew what happened.
Karen Kingsbury wrote a beautiful book called Let Me Hold You Longer. Any Mommy will need a box of Kleenex to get through this book, but it captures so profoundly the depth of emotion that comes with realizing all those "lasts" that won't happen again. One page reads:
The last time when you ran to me,
Still small enough to hold.
The last time that you say you'd marry
Me when you grow old.
Precious, simple moments and
Bright flashes from the past.
Would I have held you longer if
I'd known they were your last?
I know soon enough in life, Reese will realize that he can't marry Mommy, but I will just eat up those emotions as long as I can. I never know if it will be the last.