I lie next to him, snuggling and enjoying the feel of his damp hair against my cheek. This nightly ritual is just a story and a prayer, but it warms me down deep in my soul. Lying there with his blue fire truck quilt pulled up to our chins, we talk about the day. He voices his worries and fears.He talks about his plans and hopes. I pray a gospel prayer and remind him of God's unending love. "Mom, I wish you could stay here tonight for a sleepover" he said.
My son is five and no longer a baby. He's my second and last; I'll have no others. It is nights like these that I wish time could slow down and even stand still. Lying there, I think about his sweet days as a baby. I wince in regret at the moments I missed while suffering postpartum darkness his first year of life. I love that he prefers to be by my side, that he still loves his blankie, and that he gives near deadly bear hugs. And I think about that fact that he and I are similar in many ways, both shy, sensitive souls.
I've heard many times from friends who've walked this road before me, "Appreciate the moments you have, they grow up too fast." In those early days of infancy, the hours seem to go by at a crawl. Time is especially slow during those midnight hours when they wake up every three hours. I couldn't wait for my boys to get older so they would sleep past five in the morning. During the trying seasons of potty training and toddler tantrums, I looked forward to my boys maturing and being more independent. Now my youngest plays soccer and reads books and I look back and realize how fast the time has gone.
Too often, I have rushed through my days, looking forward to the end of the day. I've longed for quiet moments to myself. I've wished my kids would play together quietly so I could get a few things done. But as the time goes by, I realize that I’m missing moments with them that I’ll never get back. I don't want to wish I had left those loads of laundry to fold for another day and instead played a game with my boys. I don't want to wish I had just closed my computer and read a book to them. And I don’t want to wish I had set my to-do list aside to just be with my children.
Because the sad truth is, before I know it, all I'll have are quiet moments to myself.
Recently, my youngest decided he was too old for kisses. There's no way of knowing that each day I might be witnessing a "last time" in my children's lives. When I rush through my life and don’t appreciate the moments, many “last times” will fly by without my notice. If I knew that today was the last time my youngest would ask to sit on my lap, would I cherish it more? If I knew that it was the last time he would run for his blanket when he was sad, would I appreciate it more? If I knew it was the last day he would want me to snuggle with him at night, would I stay longer?
"You know what Ian?"
"This is my favorite time of day. I love reading to you and praying with you each night."
He hugs me tight and rubs his face against mine, growling like a bear. I stay longer than usual, enjoying the moment.
Before I leave he says, "You know what mommy?"
"When you lay on my pillow, you make it so hot. It feels like it is on fire!" He grumbles and flips his pillow over to the other side and waits for me to pull the covers up.
I chuckle and appreciate even this moment, savoring it, because this night might just be one of those "last times."
Christina Fox is a homeschooling mom, licensed mental health counselor, writer, and coffee drinker, not necessarily in that order. She lives in sunny S. Florida with her husband of sixteen years and their two boys. You can find her sharing her faith journey at To Show Them Jesus and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ToShowThemJesus