Let me hold you longer.

My arms were trembling and my knuckles were white, but I wasn’t going to let my baby boy go. Only he’s not a baby anymore, he’s soon to be five and a half. His legs were dangling to my knees as I held him close to my chest. I’ll have him as long as he’ll have me, I thought.

We were damp and cold as we stood in a 30 minute line to see a holiday light display in a historic home. My husband couldn’t believe I was holding my son this whole time. But my tenderhearted boy’s sweet breath on my neck made the line move in no time.

The rapidly moving line got me thinking about how fast childhood really goes. “Time flies”. I no longer have babies, and my toddler will soon toddle her way to preschool age. The days and weeks are long, but the months and years are fast.

Childhood is comprised of firsts and lasts. For instance, my baby daughter said, “Hold you!” for the first time whenever she wanted to be picked up. The “carry me” phase was something cute my family enjoyed – even resented at times. Then one day she uttered the phrase for the last time. We didn’t know it was the last time. It went unremarked upon.

I know there will come a day when I can’t hold my children anymore or they won’t want me to hold them, and that will be a sad day indeed. I will carry my children on my hip, set them down, and never pick them up that way again.

I’d like to share a poem that explores the miracle of firsts and lasts of parenthood.

The Last Time” (author unknown)
From the moment you hold your baby in your arms you will never be the same

You might long for the person you were before
When you had freedom and time
And nothing in particular to worry about

You will know tiredness like you never knew it before
Days will run into days that are exactly the same
Full of feedings and burping
Nappy changes and crying
Whining and fighting
Naps or a lack of naps
It might seem like a never-ending cycle

But don’t forget…

There is a last time for everything
There will come a time when you will feed your baby for the very last time
They will fall asleep on you after a long day
And it will be the last time you ever hold your sleeping child

One day you will carry them on your hip then set them down
And never pick them up that way again
You will scrub their hair in the bath for one last time
And from that day on they will want to bathe alone

They will hold your hand to cross the road
Then will never reach for it again
They will creep into your room at midnight for cuddles
And it will be the last night you ever wake to this

One afternoon you will sing “the wheels on the bus” and do all the actions
Then never sing them that song again

They will kiss you goodbye at the school gate
The next day they will ask to walk to the gate alone

You will read a final bedtime story and wipe your last dirty face
They will run to you with arms raised for the very last time.

The thing is, you won’t even know it’s the last time
Until there are no more times. And even then, it will take you a while to realize.

So while you are living in these times, remember there are only so many of them and when they are gone, you will yearn for just one more day of them.
For one last time.

A Final Thought – From the Pillow

You never know when the “last” one will be.

So hold on longer to every precious last.

Which “last” was the hardest for you?

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