Every year, when Christmas rolls around, I get pumped.
I go big.
I decorate on December first (mostly because the husband does not allow more festivity). I embrace traditions, I string popcorn, I play carols, we tramp out in the snow and frost, boots thick with slush, cocoa in the thermos and hotdogs in the pack ready to be cooked on the fire. We (the husband) chop down a tree, haul it home, and fill the house with the scent on spruce.
Every year, I get pumped for Christmas. Not the gifts, the presents, the stuff, but the gatherings, the music, the food, the warmth. I love the feeling, and I love the build up.
And every year, I begin to feel a little down about December 20th.
Because, ridiculously, it’s almost over. Come December 26th, it’s just not the same. I’m ready to take down the tree and move on, because Christmas is done. I tend to begin mourning the passing of this phase before it’s even gone. It’s crazy, I know, but I love Christmas. I pour myself into it and it never fails to hit me early how quickly it’s over.
I find myself feeling this way an awful lot these days.
What’s dwindling, you ask? What loss am I mourning?
Each and every baby stage that comes along. Every day Pepper does something new. It began with smiling, rolling over, reaching for toys, finding her feet. She’s trying her best to sit up, she is learning the jolly jumper (pretty soon it’ll be more for jumping than dangling and smiling). Pepper is tasting food from a spoon while mom and dad eat, she’s not crazy about potatoes, but she was on board with pickles! She’s babbling away to herself in her crib as she wakes up.
We’re working on teaching her to fall asleep on her own. I’m managing to hold and cuddle her only a few minutes before naps, and am exercising my willpower by setting her down with heavy eyes rather than just after that moment when her body becomes heavy with sleep. She’s doing well, managing to squawk herself to sleep in only a few minutes most times, as I sit on the edge of my seat, watching the clock and dying a little inside.
It occurred to me, that with this new phase of independence, the husband and I were setting ourselves up to get a lot more sleep. If Pepper wakes in the night, she’ll likely be able to put herself back to sleep, not needing the obligatory round of rocking or bum pats.
That being said, it occurred to me like a slap in the face, that I was setting myself up for a lot less cuddling, and that blissful cradling of my sleeping girl.
With each new phase that arrives, I’m always ever so painfully aware that it’s one step away from the last one. No longer small enough for swaddling, no longer small enough to sleep in my arms. No longer small enough to fit in the hammock of her baby bathtub (without some dangerous rolling over tricks). Too big for onesies with mittens. Too big for riding face-in in the snugli.
Sure enough, were geared up for endless new and exciting things. The first time Pepper reaches for me. The first word, first foods, first steps. I’m eager and excited to greet these new phases.
But I’m pretty well aware that one day I’ll realize that the last time for all of these things, was the last time. Even now, I’m trying to remember the last nap Pepper had in my arms.
And I can’t.
Because I didn’t know it was the last.
The other day I read Rober Munch’s “I’ll Love You Forever” to Pepper before bed. I know, torture, right? My voice was breaking by the time the ‘baby’ was 9 years old, and mom snuck in to rock him to sleep. By the end, I was fully sobbing and my own child surely thought I was crazy.
Yes, it occurs to me how silly this is, to pine for days gone by. I like to think this sentimentality helps me to appreciate each and every moment, each cuddle, each spit splattered giggle. I’m embracing every laugh and wiggle, and every little twinkle in Pepper’s eye. I know that nothing lasts forever.
And I want to live these moments fully.
Even if that means living them with the knowledge that these moments are fleeting.
“Time is priceless gift.
Time defined moments.
Time lost can not be redefined.
May you find the value of time as your greatest wealth.”
― Lailah Gifty Akita