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I Knew You Would Grow Up, but I Wasn’t Ready

You sang, “L-M-N-O-P” tonight. Textbook pronunciation.

And I gasped and my eyes widened, but I shifted my gaze so as not to startle you because I was so proud and yet so sad.

What happened to “ella-mama-key”? It was there yesterday and somehow gone today, just like that.

It’s another reminder that you’re growing up, and just like every other sudden shift, I wasn’t prepared.

Daylight to Dark

They’re everywhere, it seems.

A new phrase. A too-small shoe. An abandoned toy that now seems way too young for you.

Reminders that you’re not so little anymore.

And I guess that’s the gist of motherhood:

Every day feels like an eternity and I long for bedtime and dream of days when it will finally be easier.

And then I wake up one morning and it seems like you’ve grown up overnight. And I wanted this and I’m so proud of dry panties and unprompted “thank you’s” that I could just cry.

But in the very same moment I grieve a little bit, because I wasn’t prepared for all this. Not already. Not today.

And I want to go back, just for a moment, for one more “ella-mama-key”. But I can’t.

Time keeps passing, and you keep growing. And my heart keeps pulling in both directions – proud of the big kid you’re becoming, and missing the baby you were – threatening to rip right in two.

Because I’m never prepared for the passage of time. Though I know it’s coming and I sometimes wish it away and I am overjoyed beyond words to watch you come into your own, I still miss you.

The firsts excite me, but the lasts still surprise me. Maybe because they sneak up on me.

There’s lasts you can prepare for – the ones you know are coming. Last days of school, last soccer games.

But it’s the lasts you didn’t know were the last time until you’re hit with the first that replaced it…those are harder to manage. Those threaten to knock you off your feet. Those are the lasts that you can feel in your chest and that sharply remind you time is passing despite your very best efforts to slow it down.

The last time you fell asleep in my arms. The last time you needed me to lift you into the car. The last “ella-mama-key”.

So, if I hug you a little bit tighter, or ask if I can help you with something I know you can do by yourself; if I hold you a little bit longer, just go with it. Because odds are, I just experienced another last that I didn’t know was the last time, and I’m so proud, but just a little bit sad, too.

This story originally appeared on Daylight to Dark

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