Sunday, February 20, 2005

A child grows too quickly

Childhood is all about milestones. They come at you fast and furious when you don't yet have a whole lot of history behind you. Think about it, in your first year, you learn to eat, roll over, crawl, sit up, and cruise. You might start to walk. You might utter your first word, or at least your first sort-of syllables.

Every milestone is greeted with awe by parents, grandparents, extended family, friends, and anyone else who cares about you. Folks stand aside and clap and cheer every time you do something new. If they blink, they miss it.

As you get older, the pace of your milestones stretches out. They don't come as often. Fewer people stand by and cheer.

Yet every time our children reach one of these one-way doors, I find myself looking back at the day they were born. I can still remember with razor-like detail what I saw, felt and heard as we welcomed each of our kids into the world. Each experience was incredibly different, yet they all ended up with us, at some point in the proceedings, holding a tiny little bundle of squirming newness. It's that tininess that stuck in my mind as I carried our seven-year-old daughter upstairs earlier tonight after she had fallen asleep on the couch, head tucked into my wife's lap.

She's always been petite, but in the past year, she's stretched out. She's not so much a little girl any more as she is a young lady. Her legs dangled as I hoisted her up to my shoulder and held her securely. Although she's as thin as can be, she was clearly not the tiny bundle that I first held in the hospital all those years ago. I had to focus as I labored up the stairs, trying hard to balance her and not wake her up in the process.

I carefully tucked her in and then sadly realized that in the not-too-distant future, I won't be able to carry her at all.

This is hardly new territory for us. Our eldest son is already past the point at which I can comfortably carry him. I can do piggyback rides, but that's about it. I miss our pre-bedtime cuddles. I used to scoop him up after we brushed his teeth. I'd then zoom him like an airplane into his big boy bed. Now, he does the brushing. He's too big to fit completely in our arms when we kiss him goodnight. It was a sad day when I realized I risked a hernia in picking him up, and it'll be a sad day, too, when I reach the same point with our daughter.

At 4, our little guy still has a few years of carrying left in him. But when I look at him bundled in his Arthur sheets and Buzz Lightyear comforter, I know every milestone we go through with him will be the last of its kind.

Kids inevitably grow, and we never lose sight of the amazing gift that we have been granted to simply be part of their journey. Yet a part of me always thinks back to the first time I held our six-pound bundles in my arms, and I somehow wish I had as much protective ability now as I did then.

Our daughter didn't wake up this time, and she's now warmly ensconced in her bed while a raging blizzard whistles just outside her window. I hope the carrying milestone can hold off for another little while.


Diane said...

You're a wonderful Dad, Carmi. Thanks for sharing this with us.

Christine said...

I know what you mean. I carried my daughter to bed tonight, and those legs just keep getting longer and longer, hitting me lower on my legs each time I pick her up. She gets heavier slowly but steadily. She begs me for cuddles and stories before bedtime now, but I know that before I know it, she will be happy to tuck herself in, read her own book, and turn out her own light.

I agree with diva drip - you're a great dad!

Suzanne said...

What a sweet tribute to your kids. You do sound like a wonderful, caring father.

My kids are still very pick-up-able, but I was just reflecting on how my daughter has grown. When she was a newborn, I could cradle her in one arm; now, at 17 months, she sprawls across my lap, and she's too heavy to hold with one arm. How did this happen?

Chris said...

I'm glad I got home too late yesterday to read this, or I would have spent half the night sitting beside my son's bed, trying to etch the memory of him on my brain (and I really needed the sleep). I was noticing this weekend that he's now completely out of toddlerhood, solidly planted in Little Boy territory. It's a bittersweet sensation - I love the person he's becoming, and it's fascinating to watch him grow, but I miss the little person he was.

Thumper said...

It's the wonderful & sucky thing about having kids. You get to watch them grow, but you Watch. Them. Grow... and grow and grow... Then one day you blink and they're all grown up, and instead of you comforting them over an owie, they're comforting YOU over an owie...

But I gotta tell you, there's something just as warm and satisfying as all those milestone moments when you realize not only did your kid survive to adulthood, he turned out pretty spiffy, someone you're proud to know and happy to unleash on the world.

MorahMommy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
MorahMommy said...

My heart fills with joy and tears fill my eyes as I read this. As the mother of these 3 wonders, I'm also filled with sorrow. What happened to those little babies? Sometimes I feel as though we have blinked and they are grown.

We should enjoy all the big and little events that happen. Let's cherish them and think of them as new memories to share.

Just 15 to 20 years, we can enjoy it all over again, with our grandchildren!

rose said...

I share the same sentiments. Kids grow so fast. Sometimes I wish that time will just stand still, so that they will always be babies.

Although there are photos or video clips to look at, it's not the same. Nothing can really capture those precious moments.

Gel said...

You easily managed to hold my attention and bring back smiles b/c I've BTDT for those ages, but my two daughters are still at home for a few more years. It's a pleasure to "kvel" with you and yours through your writing.

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