It’s so odd to realize that I am probably watching my last baby hit his first milestones.
I’ve watched the last first tooth, the last first haircut, the last first smile, and the last first words. As of last night, I have also seen the last first steps. Yes, it’s true. My Chubber Bubber Dubber Do has taken his first wobbly steps – two at a time! Laughing and careening, a car clutched in his little dimpled baby boy hand.
Levi & I were passing him between us, and Bubbers was laughing fit to kill! Of course, I was crying. Just a little. I looked at Levi and said to him “You know, it’s just as exciting to watch the fourth baby’s first steps as it was to watch the first baby’s.”
This milestone has always been a tough one for me. It really seems to signal a good-bye to babyhood for the little one. And it’s hard to let go. Even though they all still need me everyday, for just about everything, I sometimes really feel like they’re just ready to leave me. To fly away.
I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready for that. I had a hard time a couple of weeks ago watching Turbo playing across the street with the neighbors’ grandsons. It was his first Mom-can-I-go-over-and-see-if-what’s-his-name-can-play-pleasepleaseplease?! And as I sat at my living room window watching him run circles around the house shooting and being shot, playing “armies”, I cried. And cried. And cried. (I’m tearing up now, actually!)
It was the first time I really felt like I was letting go of his hand just a bit. I’ve never felt this way leaving them with a sitter or in Sunday school. Why did I feel so lonely just letting him play at the neighbor’s? And why was it so hard? I don’t understand this motherhood thing. I really don’t. If this is what it’s going to be like when they’re all grown up and moving out, I might have a nervous breakdown!
Don’t get me wrong – I don’t get depressed thinking about it, but I just feel a longing to stay where I am. My parents were so right when they warned me not to blink. Never has the meaning of the word “bittersweet” really sunk in like it has in the last few weeks.
I don’t feel like I’m grieving either. I just feel…so…grown-up. Really and truly grown-up. Like childhood really is fully behind me now. I’m seeing it from the other side, and realizing how utterly precious my time here is.
To watch these kids grow and change and learn and laugh is a supreme joy and a supreme pain. There is nothing like it. Nothing. To be the center of their little worlds…to be the one they bring their troubles to. Those troubles that seem so big and scary and real to their little hearts. Their hearts are in my hands. My imperfect, soft, inadequate hands.
The God of the universe has entrusted these precious, made-in-His-image beings to me. Never have I felt the need to surrender to His will so much. Never have I fully understood my incompetence until now. Never have I been so grateful to be used by such a gracious, loving God. Never have I been so glad to have Somewhere to go when I fall short. Never have I been so incredibly happy to belong to Jesus, Who is always ready and willing to not only forgive me, but to cover over my mistakes, and turn them into something that will please Him.
I have truly begun to learn the height and depth and width of God’s love for me through loving my children. And what I’ve learned is just a drop in the ocean. It makes me long for the day when I get to dive into that ocean and never ever leave! I just pray that my kids can experience that too – even if it is through my imperfect, dingy example. God really does have a way of clearing things up as long as I lean on Him moment by moment.
But these last firsts are so truly bittersweet to watch. I can’t imagine life after babies, but I’m at peace inside, knowing that God is good, and will keep holding my hands as I learn to take one step at a time through this thing called motherhood. One step at a time. Just one.
PS: What milestones have been the hardest for you as a mommy?