My kids do this thing almost every time we go somewhere that tends to drive us nuts. They always go to the edge of the curb or ledge of a garden and start walking on it like a balance beam. Because we have four kids, Noah (the oldest) hops on first, and just like baby ducks following their mama, the other three kids follow along without question. The problem that we have with this is that first, we are normally in a hurry because #fourkids and always running late and second, it's inevitable that one of them will fall and we will have to stop, brush off a knee, or kiss a boo-boo before we keep going. Now do you see why I say that this habit drives us nuts? It doesn't matter where we are going or what kind of rush we are in, all four kids will find a ledge to balance on. My husband finally had enough sometime a few weeks ago and tells them "no more walking on the edge!!" It is dangerous. It is slow. We are done.". Honestly, I was happy for this new rule. We could finally get in somewhere without someone slowing us down.
A few nights later, as I always do, I found myself overthinking the days events and I thought back to this. In a few years, our kids are going to grow out of walking the edges. They are also going to grow out of their chubby cheeks, their baby talk, barbies, tickles, and possible even asking me to kiss their boo boos. So what if they slow us down a little bit? Isn't that what we want out of childhood anyway? To slow down and soak up their adventure and innocence? I'm in the thick of parenting right now with kids ranging 2-10. I know that sometimes things are hard and sometimes we really do have to eliminate the unnecessary. Like choosing shoes. I choose the shoes so my kids don't spend 4 hours picking out the perfect pair for the park. It simplifies life and prevents arguments. But walking the edge is different. It slows us down and makes us hold their hand so they don't fall.
I remember my oldest, Noah, would wake up several times a night until he was 4 years old. He didn't just rustle around, but he wanted me to hold him and walk to the kitchen to make him warm milk. Sleep training experts and dentists together would have died, but I didn't know any better. I did it night after night until it was instinct. I hated it and was exhausted for four solid years. One day though, he slept through the night. Then another night and another. I wasn't sad that that stage had ended, I was thrilled actually... but he did end up waking up randomly one night. As I scooped him up and held him on the way to the kitchen, I remembered how close he held me on that walk. I watched him drink his milk and remembered how sweet his face was as he drifted off again. I was lucky to have that one random night because I was able to soak it in without resentment or exhaustion. It was one of my first glances at "last times".
I had always heard how special first times are, first words and walking, but no one told me about last times. Last times are even more special. I'm living in a world of last times right now. Just recently, I watched my daughter fall asleep with a paci for the last time. Soon, I'll get her out of her crib in the morning for the last time. Do you know what's really heartbreaking? I may have already held my son in my arms for the last time. He only weighs 20 pounds less than me and doesn't need me to hold him into the kitchen for milk anymore. It is a bittersweet stage that I am living in right now. While I love it just as much as I hate seeing them grow up... I will tell you that I am not ready for them to grow up completely. I'm going to continue to let them walk to edge, no matter how much it slows us down. Because if I have learned anything through motherhood, it is that babies don't keep.