Wednesday, September 23, 2009

1 Month and 1 Day

She stumbled into my office and crawled into my lap. Her face flushed and warm, her eyes droopy and sad.

My baby is catching a cold.

:(

I let her snuggle on my lap while I attempted to beat my Facebook friends on Bejeweled Blitz until the drool on my shoulder made me realize that she had passed out in the middle of the day. Poor baby! I hefted her to my shoulder, her legs dangling to my knees, and slowly made my way to the couch where I paused for a moment; I could put her down. I could put her down on the couch and let her nap while I continued to crush people I rarely see on a silly game. Or I could keep her in my arms while she sleeps. We could relax on the couch in the afternoon, just the two of us...

How can I resist that option?

So I lowered myself down, kicked back the footrest, and held my sleeping 3 year old. And as I thought about the fact that I was holding a napping 3 year old, I realized that this will be the LAST TIME I ever do this. Unless her cold lasts longer than I think, or I have a surprise baby (HAHAHAHAHA), this will be the final afternoon cuddle with a sleeping toddler. For in just 1 month and 1 day, my BABY turns 4.

FOUR.

Oh, my heart! It's the first year of being a "big kid." A 3 year old still holds some semblance to the baby that they once were. A 3 year still retains the ability to be called a "toddler", though my daughter hasn't toddled since she was 10 months old. Always running, climbing and dancing, she has seemed older than her age from the start. But to have the number 3 permanently disappear from my family line-up feels... weird. Unsettling. I mean, I have been a mommy to a 3 and under child for a decade. 10 years, 8 months, to be exact. For 128 months I have held the title of "Mommy to a baby/toddler." But in exactly 1 month and 1 day? That title will be stripped from me...

What a big to-do, eh? Moaning and groaning over a number? But this IS a change for me. Being a mother is the defining aspect of my adulthood. Being a mother to only Older Children is a new direction that I hadn't planned on taking. I mean, seriously? Does any mom to a couple of babies or toddlers honestly believe that she will one day be that seasoned mom of Big Kids? It sounds like a foreign country! How could MY babies grow into creatures like those I've seen in other families??

But, grow they do. And I am fortunate to have this blessing of being a mommy to Big Kids. Not all moms of babies and toddlers get to reach this stage, a tragedy that I am extremely aware of. But it doesn't make me miss my snuggly babies any less...

So I held her. We snuggled. I stroked her damp hair off of her almost-4-year-old-head and cradled her like the baby she once was. I got weepy as I remembered the countless hours and hours spent rocking her, and Evan, and Justin in the glider that now sits in my family room as a gamer chair. My throat clenched up while I attempted, once again, to hold onto this moment. To make it last. To freeze this snippet of life; not only in my heart, but in sentences and paragraphs.

This? Is impossible. Even now, less than an hour after we awakened (I fell asleep for a bit, too!) from our nap, the memory has faded. Always slipping away, my memories are like cups full of sand, being poured into the giant sand box that is my mind. I can only truly experience them once. One time, and then they are blended with the rest of my memories. Meshed and mixed and unclear. Shifting and sifting and moving together... Corinne as a newborn... Corinne as a one year old... Corinne in the glider... Corinne on the couch... Corinne on her bike... Corinne driving a car... Corinne getting married...

My heart can't take this. I swear it will burst....
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