For me, one of the most beautiful experiences has been watching my children grow. With my youngest being at a different place in my life, I’ve been even more conscious about relishing all the moments that make up babyhood. My oldest taught me that it goes by fast. And this time has been no different. I’ve described the way I feel — happy and sad at the same time. Happy (and grateful) that my baby girl is thriving, and yes, a little sad that she is less and less of a baby with each passing day.
I love when I happen upon a book that puts my feelings into words and If I Could Keep You Little by Marianne Richmond was just the book. I came across it while in Target one day, and as I turned the pages my eyes welled with tears. I decided to purchase it for Lola’s birthday and asked party guests to sign it. I wanted her to remember all of the people who were there to love her when she was little. My hope is that they will still be there loving her when she is big.
From time to time, I will curl up with Lola in my lap and read to her the words. How I wish that I could keep her little. And yet by keeping her little, I realize all of the things that I would miss out on, like watching her grow into her own person.
I reflect on the days when she was a wrinkly newborn. I would hold her in my arms and inhale her sweet baby smell. I would smile each time she yawned and my heart would melt when she would grasp my finger. I remember wishing those moments would never end. But then I look at the 1-year-old that she is today. This morning, we stood in front of the mirror and she wrapped her hands around my neck and leaned in close. When I ask for them, she gives me kisses and hugs, and each morning when our eyes meet her face lights up. All things that I would miss out on had she always stayed a wrinkly, sweet-smelling newborn.
It’s almost as if with each stage of development brings me a new gift in exchange for the one that my heart feels like time is taking from me. Tiny fingers that wrap around mine in exchange for chubby hands that squeeze my cheeks as she leans in for a big kiss. And while I will probably always struggle with time, I also realize that time isn’t taking anything from me. Instead it is giving me everything I dreamed of – like a chance to watch my baby grow into the person she is meant to be.
As she sits in my lap during our stories, her hands now help me turn the pages. Soon she will join me in reading the words. One day, I will reminisce about the days when she was little. For now, I will relish in the fact that she still is. I will continue to see the beauty in the now, as well as in the days, months and years that lie ahead. Perhaps it will look a little different then, but it will always be a gift. Watching my baby grow will always be a gift. Little or big, she’s mine, and always will be.
“If I could keep you little,
I’d keep you close to me.
But then I’d miss you growing
into who you’re meant to be!”
Excerpt from If I Could Keep You Little by Marianne Richmond