Originally posted on Dec 13, 2011.
Drew turns six months old today. Such milestones are often a time of touching reflection for us parents — A half-year? Seems like just yesterday I was popping out that butterball! — yet sometimes it is the small, unexpected moments that prompt the most poignant realizations. Just the other night, in the midst of pleading with my butterball to go to sleep, I laid him on my chest where he so loved to sleep as a newborn. In fact, it was pretty much the only place he would close his eyes during those first few months; a fact that made me feel simultaneously bonded and tethered to my son.
Now, months later, I could feel his body relax for a moment, just as he would as a newborn. The feeling of his warm head on my chest stirred up maternal feelings. Strong feelings of which I didn’t know I was capable at 2:30 in the morning. Heck, I couldn’t even open my eyes. How did I have the strength to produce an all-consuming burst of warmth and love for this little fellow? But that’s all it took: his cheek pressed against my heart, combined with the knowledge that I was his sleep haven.
His head popped up, his face contorting into the very picture of discontent. He was almost six months old now, not six weeks, and he wanted to sit up and check out this world of ours — exhaustion be damned. No longer content to lie on his mom’s chest, his fingers curled around mine, for hours on end. With this realization, my eyes closed even more tightly, I shed a few tears. Although it had been months since Drew had laid on my chest, it was just now dawning on me that he would probably never do so again. Not like he did as a newborn, at least. A bittersweet realization: I cannot live with a butterball tethered to my chest forever, and yet, I sure do miss being able to reassure my son with the mere sound of my heartbeat, to feel his head snuggled under my own in the middle of the night.
It made me think about all of the lasts we experience as parents. The bittersweet lasts I have experienced with my son and my daughter, knowing there are so many more to come.
If only I had known that was the last time you would sleep on my chest, I wouldn’t have been so quick to transfer you to the crib.
If only I had known that was the last time you would call me “MaMa,” I would have recorded you saying it before the sound of it faded from memory.
If only I had known that was the last time you would be immobile, I would have savored the chance to go to the bathroom by myself without worrying if you’ve finagled your way into the steak knife drawer.
If only I had known that was the last time you would have that “baby smell,” I would have taken one final, huge inhale.
If only I had known that was the last time you would let me pick out your clothes, I would have grabbed something nicer than your old “Party in My Crib” t-shirt.
If only I had known that was the last time you would ask me to carry you up the stairs, I wouldn’t have rolled my eyes.
If only I had known that was the last time you would have a dirty diaper… well, we’re not there yet, but regardless… I would still hand you over to your father.