You would think since I was at home all day with a child who recovered fairly quickly and didn't seem as sick as he did yesterday (I know he wasn't faking because 1) he is only 2 1/2 and 2) I know he had fever even going to bed last night), I would have accomplished something. Anything. Alas, I did not. I have been more tired than usual and today was no exception. I just chilled with our sick little guy and took a nap. I didn't get back into action until everyone was home and I needed to monitor chores, supervise homework, make dinner, etc.
As usual, I digress...let me re-focus. :)
I have been thinking a lot about "lasts". You know, we tend to record the firsts of our children, like first tooth, first steps, first words. And those are all noteworthy things to record. But what I am often struck with is the "lasts". I have heard there is a book about this on the shelves, though I cannot remember the name of it. I need to read it. We don't typically record the "lasts" because we don't realize more often than not that they are THE last.
Things like the last bottle I had to wash. We were moving our youngest away from bottles anyway. In fact, after his first birthday, we had him down to just one bottle before bed. Our goal was to eventually drop it. But before we could, there was one night I got the bottle as usual and he told me in his own way that he didn't want it. And he never had one again. :( While I knew it was time for it to happen, it still made me sad. I loved that time of feeding him before he drifted off to sleep, singing little lullabies, rocking in that glider. In a blink, that time was gone.
Or there is the last picture book I read with the two older kids. I wish I knew what they were. It wasn't an all of a sudden thing, it just kind of evolved. And at the time I didn't realize when we had reached the end. I have always tried to read to them before bedtime. And I have read many a story (still do to the younger ones). But as the two older kids became better readers, they started wanting to read on their own. I was so excited when child 2 got the Little House on the Prairie book set. I envisioned us reading it together and talking about that pioneer life and the role of women. Instead, she devoured the whole collection that summer...I don't think I got to read a word of it.
Even little things make me stop and ponder. All of our kids except for the youngest one have said "nilk" rather than "milk". I don't know why. Mark and I both speak fairly clearly and without much of an accent. We would try to correct them and just get the same response, "Nilk..." (Joshua has always said it the right way) Except all three one day didn't say "nilk" but rather "milk". I don't know when it happened. I probably didn't notice right away. But it did happen, and I wonder, "How? Where did that time go?"
- The last time three of the four used a pacifier (the fourth uses fingers which by the way are not as easy to take away). Okay, I had more control over this "last". But even then, I am not sure I knew it would be THE last time. I just remember thinking, "We will try it tonight and see how it goes..." Then for whatever reason, at some point, it went fine, and there was no looking back. I still have one stuck in the back of a kitchen drawer. I cannot part with it.
- The last time we used a stroller. We still do with the youngest a little but the day is coming. That "last" is coming, all too soon. (Which I kind of hate since the stroller is so fast as opposed to my hip)
- The last bath. Even child 4 has decided that showers are the way to go. He asks for one almost nightly. No baths. And I wonder, "When did that stop?"
- The last baby food jar. I recently threw out a couple of jars of babyfood that had expired. I don't know when or why we stopped. At one point, I thought our youngest would eat it forever. But things change. And this did.
- The last nose I wiped. Of course, I am still wiping noses for our little guy, but when did I cease to do that for the other kids? Isn't it strange how one day you look back and think, "Wow, I never wipe noses any more?"
- The last time I buckled them in their carseats. Again, I still do this for child 4. But I know in another year or two, I won't be buckling anyone but myself into the seat belt anymore. Just one day they can do it, and that chore of your life is over.
- The last diaper changed. Again, we still do that with child 4. And I am just fine with that. He is our baby and unless God sends a sign in flashing neon, he is the last of our clan. I have been in no hurry to have him grow up. I am not purposely keeping him a baby. In fact, I already marvel at how much he IS growing up. I am just not rushing it. He isn't quite ready to be out of diapers (physically), though I know he is getting close. I just know with the others, especially one of the girls, it happened in an instant. She just told me that she was done wearing diapers, and she was. She never looked back. And suddenly, again, that task of life was over.
- The last time you brush their teeth. Okay, we still do that on occasion with one of ours. But I cannot think of the last time I did it for the older kids.
- The last time we cut up food. Honestly we still do that a lot but not as much as we used to. Suddenly, getting dinner ready means simply putting food on the plate and letting the child eat from it.
- The last time we carry a diaper bag. Though one is still in diapers for the time being, we very rarely carry a bag into restaurants for him. We still grab a bib and a Table Topper but that is it. I still feel a little like...well, like something is missing. Yet it is freeing. When we are out and decide to grab some food, we don't have to worry about having snacks available, we don't have to have the sippy cup anymore, and even if we don't have a bib, more often than not, we are okay.
Obviously I could go on and on, because just as there are many firsts in life, there are so many lasts. And though we don't "note" the lasts like we do the firsts, I have just found myself recently pondering these "last moments" with a little sadness, a little wonder. I remember when the kiddos were younger, people would stop me in stores and say, "Enjoy these moments, they pass much too quickly." And while I was in the middle of listening to another temper tantrum, I would find myself just saying, "Bah Humbug, enjoy these, my foot!" As usual, it has taken time, the gift of sweet precious passing time, to show me the wisdom in those words of advice. They do pass quickly. And one day, you look at your pre-teen or even your toddler who is almost a preschooler and you wonder, "When did it happen?"