I tiptoe in every night. To breathe a little prayer over them. Whispering, “mommy loves you and Jesus loves you too,” into their ears while kissing their cheeks. During they day they are so grown up. Using newfound words with ease and tackling new challenges like getting dressed and connecting their own car seat buckles. I revel in the additions to their vocabulary and skill set but marvel out how far down the road we already are. I remember like yesterday sitting in a pew and praying for just one little blessing never guessing I would be entrusted with three.
But nights. Nights are my favorite. There are still remnants of baby in them at night. The tousled hair. The pink cheeks. The eyelashes splayed out unfluttered. The baby of my babies, always called the baby because not only did he arrive last (by sixty seconds) but he still has the most baby in his face. I kneel down to kiss his face and he rolls into me. Still sleeping he curls his hand around mine. He has this smell, a smell I’ve talked about since the beginning, that makes him a little like a drug. An addictive smell that just makes me lean in all the more and kiss his sweet cheeks and cuddle with his sleeping form enjoying the precious moments. I move to the next one. All legs. Amazing that he still fits in his bed. He’s always looked the oldest, but in his sleep, seeing only his face, he’s still that little one I rocked at 3 am as we tried to get him to sleep through the night. He was the first to learn that trick. But even though it’s been three years since I’ve had those rocking chair moments, his face brings it all back to me like it was last night. Then, still remembering, I move into her new room. She’s crumpled at the end of her bed with her hair, ever-growing after all this time, shielding her face from the hall light. I brush it back. Kiss her face. Move her body. As the lightest, she’s still the easiest to imagine as a toddler rather than this increasingly independent girl.
We’ve all heard it, us mommas, the days are long but the years are fast. Here, on the floor next to their bed, their stretched out bodies, I know it to be true so acutely. The bittersweet pill of watching them grow – loving their new discoveries but knowing that leaves them with one less discovery to make in front of you. They use words like especially and motor skills and mulch and ancient. There sleeping, in their silence, I remember the babies. I kiss the faces of my babies. I feel grateful and ashamed all at once. Overwhelmed at the enormous blessing we’ve been given, but disappointed at my own frustration with them and lack of appreciation for the miraculousness of these moments. So I recommit to working on patience. On a constant state of gratitude. And I kiss them once again and whisper my promises in their ears.