I’m not sure when it happened, just that it happened. A little over a month ago, Desirae started walking, but she has continued to alternate between toddling and crawling. Well, at some point last week, she stopped. I can’t pinpoint when it happened, but she decided she doesn’t crawl anymore. She only walks.
As a mom, there will always be a first time, but do I know when the last time will be?
It makes me sad, feeling like I missed the last day she was crawling. All morning I’ve been thinking through last week, trying to determine what trip across the living room, on her hands and knees, was the last. I miss hearing the pitter-patter of her hands shuffling along the floor. Desirae probably could have won any crawling race you put her in. I always smiled watching her, head down, fervently crawl unhindered to her daddy.
I wish I could go back to last week, and watch Desirae crawl one more time. I wish I could savor that last time she crawled to see her daddy come through the door. I wish I could record that last time she crawled over to me to play. I know I saw it happen, but I’m not sure when.
Today, I have a girl, confidently getting up on her feet, who toddles across the room to show me her favorite toy. With each step, she becomes stronger and more sure of herself. Next thing I know, she will be running.
My baby is growing up. It wont’ be long until she isn’t my baby anymore, but she becomes my toddler. I don’t know when it will happen, but I’m sure it will come some time in the coming year. A couple weeks ago, I started calling her my “big baby”, because just calling her my baby doesn’t seem appropriate anymore. My big baby girl is transiting from baby to toddler, and I want to savor every day so I don’t miss that last baby moment.
I suppose that’s what motherhood is like. We are always aware of the firsts, but not the lasts. We know the first times – the first steps, the first words, the first goal. But we never know the lasts – the last crawl, the last coo, the last time my child would rather sit on my lap than play on the field. As a mom, I’m torn between the pride and joy of seeing my child grow, and saddened by the passing of seasons I’ll never see again.
I haven’t been a mom for very long, but I’m learning that motherhood is one transition after the other. Transitions from baby to toddler, from toddler to girl, from girl to woman. God willing, I will be there to watch Desirae through each season and to teach her how to handle each transition with grace. As the days go by, she will learn to talk, explore her talents, and form her own opinions. It is my joy and honor, as her mother, to help Desirae learn and grow into a kind, loving, gracious, and Godly woman. But it is also my heartache and burden to let go, to step back, to not be my baby’s whole world, to watch her fall without me there to catch her. One day I won’t be there to kiss her bruises, and my words won’t comfort her hurting heart. With each first, my child becomes more independent. With each first, I have to let go a little more. Until one day, my child is an adult, and I will let go for the last time.
It’s bittersweet, letting go of what was and looking ahead to what’s next. Today, Desirae walks to see her daddy, instead of crawls. I can’t wait for the day Desirae begins talking, and I am able to hear what’s on her mind and how she thinks. Some day soon the two of us will go on mommy daughter dates, and we will build memories that we’ll both remember. I’ll let go of what was, all the joys of the past, and the two of us will welcome the hopes for the future.
After all these years, I am finally beginning to understand what it was like for my mother. No one can understand motherhood until they’ve experienced it. I’m thankful for my mom. I’m thankful for the transitions she led me through. I’m thankful for her patience as I was learning and making my fair share of mistakes. During all those transitions, in times when I’m sure when wished she could hold me a little tighter, she let me go a little more. My mother did all she could to lead and guide me, until the day she let go, for the very last time. Because my mom was willing to let me go, one transition at a time, I am here today. She learned to let go so that on day I could do the same for my own child.
Right now, I still get to be my baby’s world. I still get to tuck her in at night and hold her hand as she walks on unsteady ground. I want to savor every moment, because I know one day it will be the last day, and I don’t want to miss it. That’s when I’ll let go of the last, and welcome the new first. Until then, I will be here, watching Desirae walk on her own, ready to kiss her when she falls.