My daughter just turned 3, and has officially entered this really fun stage: Every day, her ability to communicate with me gets better and better. She talks to me in full sentences now, and is ultra-aware of the things going on around her. Her memory is incredible and her problem-solving skills are blowing me away. We’re able to do puzzles together, too, and while we fit each piece into place, she tells me about her day and all the little things that happened when I wasn’t with her.
Honestly, I love it; I love that my daughter is becoming this little person I can actually engage with in all these ways we couldn’t before, and I love that it has me getting excited for the future.
Now I often look at her and think, “I can’t wait until …”
I can’t wait until you’re old enough to go horseback riding.
I can’t wait until we take our first trip abroad together.
I can’t wait until you’re interested in reading chapter books at bedtime; until we can devour Charlottes Web, and Little Women, and Harry Potter and Little House in the Big Woods together.
I can’t wait until we can talk about what you want to be when you grow up.
I can’t wait until I can teach you … everything.
I can’t wait, I can’t wait, I can’t wait … it’s become a little mantra of mine. There’s a little piece of me that is so excited for the future, I sometimes forget to live in the present.
Of course, the reverse is also true.
Facebook’s Memories app will sometimes flash a photo from 3 years ago across my screen, and I’ll suddenly be misty-eyed over days that are now passed. The baby cuddles. The extended nap times. The child who wasn’t yet capable of arguing about every little decision that’s been made.
In those moments, I miss my baby. She was so small and so sweet and so dependent. I didn’t have to worry about her pouring milk all over the kitchen floor or breaking loose from my hand and running out into the street. I didn’t have to deal with temper tantrums or the bad influence of anyone else in her life.
I just had to sit in my bed, watching whatever I wanted on TV, snuggling my sweet baby, and inhaling her perfect baby scent.
Yep — at the same time I sit here daydreaming about the future, when my little “threenager” will be all grown up, I miss my baby.
I realize that the juxtaposition of these two yearnings isn’t the easiest to understand; and yet it perfectly captures my heart struggle in motherhood. I am forever stuck between looking forward to the future and missing the past. So much so, that sometimes I fear I’m not enjoying the here and now nearly enough.
And isn’t it the here and now that I was once so looking forward to? The here and now that will someday be the past I miss?
How do you temper that? How do you control your excitement over what’s to come, mute your mourning over what’s passed, and just throw yourself completely into what is in front of you today?
Because today, I have a little girl who loves to play music — so much so that she will pull out every instrument we own and put on a little one-person show. She is creative and smart and funny and oh-so-sweet.
And even when she’s mid-tantrum, or arguing, or running off into the street … she’s mine. And looking at her, I am so often filled with a sense of wonder that I even get to be her mommy.
So many years, I worried this day would never come. That I would never get the chance to be a mother at all. And now, here I am. Raising a little girl who becomes a person I am more and more excited to know each and every day.
I am so lucky.
But this kid of mine? She might just be my only. And it’s passing by all too fast, and not fast enough at the same time.
I just want to breathe. I just want to close my eyes, refocus, and remember to enjoy today.
The problem is, there’s still tomorrow to think about. And yesterday to remember.
This is the part about motherhood they don’t tell you about — how heart-tugging the pull will be between wanting it all to speed up and wishing it would all slow down.
But as for me, I’m going to try and remember, as much as I can, that right there in front of me is a moment I was waiting for not so long ago: A little girl old enough to draw me a picture and tell me about her day, but still young enough to want to cuddle up into my lap and hear lullabies just before bed.