I breathe in his freshly-shampooed hair, twirling the fine baby-soft strands of blonde sweetness around my finger. Ben has been asleep in my arms for close to 20 minutes now, but I’ve selfishly (?) stayed upstairs in the nursery rocking him, snuggling him close and savoring the night-time quiet — his even breathing and the pitter-patter of his heart-beat while Luis prepares Maya for bed.
He’s limp in my arms, in such a deep sleep he’s easily placed into his crib and I do the “hand slip” out from under him. He moans a little, lets out a sigh as he drifts into dreamland. I touch his back, rubbing it ever-so-softly, making shushing sounds, while his legs curl under him.
And, as I did a million times with Baby Maya, I stop and pause to reflect on this.exact.moment.
As I quietly tip-toe out, I am struck by the fact that I don’t really remember these moments with her anymore. And it scares me to no end. It’s not that I haven’t had those moments with her: I know they existed–I have countless photos and blog posts and poems documenting such beautiful, tender moments. And we’ve shared more than 1,000 tuck-ins in her life now.
But now that I am face-to-face with my infant son every day — an infant who looks just like Maya (except with significantly more hair and brown eyes, not blue!), I don’t really remember Baby Maya. I’m so caught-up in preschool Maya — who can frustrate me and annoy me with her strong will and fierce independence (which will bode well for her in her career) … and in the next breath, crack me up or make me tear up with such love and adoration, I don’t know what hit me.
I think my mom and sister have subconsciously (or consciously) realized how I’m feeling, because every now and then, they send me a video of Baby Maya. A video I hadn’t looked at in 2, 3 years. And there she is. My sweet, Michelin-armed little girl. Barely speaking. Barely walking. Barely crawling. Batting a toy. Sitting up before tipping over. Drinking her milk from a bottle.
Time stood still back then; or so it seemed. Now that we have two kids, I feel like life is just flying by. And moments with my preschooler, in particular, are quick. Feverish. I rarely get to savor them — she’s on-the-go when she’s outside, or she’s talking a mile a minute in the car, asking so many questions I have to be on 24/7 (she picks up on everrrrrything and forgets nothing. Such a woman!).
But then something like this happens and we get a moment to slow down.
As I was getting her ready for school this morning, she chose her outfit and asked me to help put on her socks so we could “cooperate” (her word, not mine) — versus her doing it alone, which is the usual MO. She was agreeable while I brushed her hair and put it in a little pony — even let me pick out her hair tie without a fit. She didn’t fight me to put on her (seasonally-inappropriate) black patent leather tall boots and opted for (sensible) sneakers. And she helped Benny when he dropped his bottle. After all these little things, I got the biggest hug from her, for no reason.
And as we embraced– me kneeling down to her level — I breathed in her freshly-shampooed, blond locks — thicker than her brother’s, but blonde all the same. She didn’t stay long enough for me to twirl them around my finger, but I felt the warmth of this impromptu hug and was reminded, once again: this is what it’s all about.
My headstrong 3.5 year old is also a little girl who desperately wants both love and approval. I’d be a fool not to give her both, whole-heartedly.
I know I’m blessed; it goes without saying and I never take my children for granted. I’ve read blog posts by moms who have lost a child and their pain and suffering is unimaginable. For them, the fading of their baby’s infant memories is something many of them struggle with — compounded by the fact that there is no present-day comfort for them to soak up to remember once again.
So that’s what I’ll do: soak up the present memories, and look to old videos to spark memories of what she was like as a baby. The memories may be fading, but we’re blessed to have countless memories ahead.