I see it.
I see you.
I see that you’ve grown.
Not yet a little girl, but no longer my little baby.
You want to do everything by yourself. Your newfound independence is both exciting and heart wrenching. You don’t need me the way you used to. I hear “I can do it” at least 50 times a day; brushing your teeth, combing your hair, putting on clothes – and you can! You can do all those things without me, and my heart swells with pride each time you successfully accomplish a new task all by yourself. This is what I’m training you for – independence. So why is it so incredibly painful?
Watching you grow into a toddler has been nothing short of extraordinary. In fact, no other season of my life compares to the fullness of the last two and a half years. No other season has been marked by such highs of joy or stronger times of sanctification. I had no idea my life was incomplete before you. But sweet girl, it’s also excrutiating to say goodbye.
No one told me that motherhood would be a constant journey of mourning. Each new development and milestone you achieve is another step toward losing that little baby I once knew. I am simultaneously filled with joy at what you are accomplishing, yet mourning the loss of the little girl past. You may always be my little girl in my heart, but my baby – is now gone forever.
I will never again hold my one month old baby and smell your sweet milky breath or kiss your teeny tiny toes. Four month old you, whose only vocabulary was nothing more than “momma” and was content to stare at me all day long is gone forever. The chubby arms and legs of sweet seven month old Scarlette will never wrap all the way around me, as the heaviness of a baby napping on her mommy sets in. The cheesy, toothless grin has been replaced with a gorgeous, full mouth of teeth, smile. The dead leg army crawl has been replaced with a range of dainty footsteps, ballerina twirls and cautious running.
You see, that baby is gone. She is replaced with a beautiful, self-sufficient, brilliant, strong-willed and feisty little toddler. You are without a doubt, growing into a person I love more and more every single day and I am eternally grateful I get to be the one you call mommy.
But daughter, mourning the loss of baby Scarlette has been tougher than I expected. No one told me how difficult that would be. No one told me I could grieve a child who was still happily playing in my home. Will I remember the way you incorrectly said “hold you” when you were asking me to hold you? Will I remember the feel of your grubby little hands as they learned to pull up against my leg? More importantly, will YOU remember the time we spent, just me and you; playing, laughing, nursing and snuggling?
I will hold on to the memories of the baby you were, for the rest of my life. But you won’t ever remember the baby Scarlette of my memory. She is mine, to cherish and keep as long as my memories allow me.
You have taught me what it means to treasure a moment. To soak it in and live it to its fullest capacity. Because of you, I aim daily to be present in every moment instead of letting it pass me by unnoticed. Those moments are adding up to be your life, and I want to take it all in. No matter how hard I try to make it untrue, there’s more life to be had in one moment that can ever be held onto. I already can’t remember what a normal day looked like for us, or how my heart felt living it alongside you. But I will continue to tuck my time with you deep into my soul, knowing full well that I will one day be saying goodbye to a woman Scarlette.
So every time you say “Momma, snuggle me longer”, I will oblige.
I will memorize the perfect curls framing your porcelain face.
When you kiss me and giggle even though you’re supposed to be napping – I will tuck it away.
I will read one more book with toddler Scarlette, even when I’ve already read twenty.
Because life has taught me that within just a few night’s rests, I will be staring at kid Scarlette and saying goodbye to my toddler.
And I will slow and savor that time as diligently as I am capable.