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Is this the last time?

February 18, 2010

Many, many times over the last seven years have I sat in the quiet dark, rocking a child for one reason or another.

Sometimes because he couldn’t sleep.
Sometimes because I couldn’t sleep.
Sometimes because I just felt like having that warm, soft, in-and-out breath on my neck that makes everything seem right with the world.

Knowing that he is my last child, every time I’ve sat in that rocker I’ve wondered…Is this the end? How much longer can I fit this warm, pliant body on my rapidly-shrinking lap?

I remember a day (or a night, rather) not so long ago (as if it were a dream, with fuzzy edges and rounded corners) when the warm, pliant body was so small, so easily cradled in my arms that I was terrified of falling asleep and letting him drop. Swaddled, he was hardly bigger (or weightier) than a rolled-up bath towel.

But now, we struggle a bit, he and I, in the dark, to find that comfortable place. The arms and legs and blanket don’t fit like they used to and even when we are finally folded together in peace, there always seems to be a leg or a foot left over.

It’s been a few weeks since our last tryst and as I stopped into their darkened rooms, to breathe them in for a brief moment on my way to bed, as I always do, the terrifying thought gripped me. Is it over? Was that the end?

Our days are often filled with firsts. We had our first visit by the tooth fairy quite recently, and our first, um, production on the Froggy Potty.

But they are equally filling rapidly with lasts. My last child has seen his last diaper step aside for the first Pull Up. I tossed out the wipes warmer on Saturday simply for lack of use and that act alone brought sadness. Two babies benefited from that silly contraption, during countless midnight diaper changes.

Every size outgrown fills up paper bags with not one, but two sets of memories. Heartsick, I say goodbye to faded t-shirts worn by both. in their own time, the Elmo sneakers (now with holes in the toes), the Christmas sweaters ever-preserved in our family photos.

We are weeks, perhaps days, away from using the high-chair for the last time, the toddler spoons for the last time, the Winnie-the-Pooh plate, the sippy cups…they are all nearing the end of their term of service. All good and appropriate, but still…it’s the end.

The last time I nursed my babies – did I know it was the last time? There had to have been the last time – it was there and then no more. Was I even aware that it was the end?

Last night I had just turned out the light and curled onto my side. Sleep was creeping in at the edges when I heard a scream and then another.

“No!” he screamed. “I don’t want to!”

Sleep bolted, and so did I, for the room across the hall, to wake and to soothe, and yes, once again, to rock.

This time it was my oldest boy who was fighting dreamy demons in the dark.

As I pulled him into my arms, kissing and rocking away the ghouls, he whispered: “Thanks for telling me it was only a dream, mom.” And he curled back into himself, tucking long legs and arms into Yellow Blankie once again.

Perhaps there never really is a true “last time.”

The lasts intertwine with firsts;
with joy we welcome and with tears we say good-bye,
and no matter what…

it is good.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. February 18, 2010 3:18 am

    >You may have already read it but take a look at "Love You Forever" by Robert Munsch. There will come a time when the roles reverse and you will be the one held by your boys. Quite honestly, I can barely look at the book's cover without my throat tightening and my vision getting slightly blurry. [Although I would never admit that to anyone. Oh wait, I just did.]

  2. February 18, 2010 3:29 am

    >Touching, Adelle! Don't worry, though, I still crawl into my parents' laps on occasion. And when I'm too big and they're too little, I'll hold them on my lap.

  3. February 18, 2010 3:37 am

    >We were given that book when Scoob was born and the giver wrote on the flyleaf that they should have printed it with waterproof pages. She was right. I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living my baby you'll be.That would have made a much better title!

  4. February 18, 2010 3:43 am

    >Oh, buy…*sniff, sniff* you do know how to tug at those heartstrings. I've not evem had my first first,a dn I'm wishing it didn't have to end! Going to read selected scenes from Little Women now and have a good cry. 🙂 Love you!

  5. February 18, 2010 3:51 am

    >So beautifully written. Thank you Adelle.

  6. February 18, 2010 4:37 am

    >I'm not their mom and I still get misty thinking about how fast your boys are growing. What a beautiful post.

  7. February 18, 2010 4:59 am

    >Thanks for posting this. I can totally relate! When I was exhausted and in the thick of tantrums and changing diapers, people always told me to treasure these moments because they grow up so fast. I didn't think time was traveling very fast then. But now I know what they were saying and YES, those days flew by and I can't believe how fast my boys are growing up too!

  8. February 18, 2010 6:12 am

    >This one… *THIS ONE* you must publish.

  9. February 18, 2010 2:40 pm

    >Adelle these times just pave the way for new firsts that make losing these lasts okay. Some of the new firsts are just as joyous! This is why is it great to enjoy them at each age and not push them to grow up. Each age has its blessings and hardships. There are days though I'd like that sweaty, metal smelling boy to come through the door one more time needing me to "fix him" after a spill on his bike!

  10. February 18, 2010 4:26 pm

    >Yes, the little ones do get too big to fall asleep on your lap; but they will fall asleep on your shoulder; and if you are as blessed as I have been, their children will fall asleep on your shoulder, lap, in a crib next to your bed on a get-a-way, and so much more. The beautiful moments don't stop – they just change in character.

  11. February 18, 2010 5:42 pm

    >Yup, I am crying! I think all Moms can relate.:-)

  12. July 25, 2010 8:42 pm

    >I think about this every time I rock my little guys! This post made me cry. So sweet!

  13. July 26, 2010 9:26 pm

    >That is such a lovely post. I still rovk my 4 year old to sleep every night, and recently I've been thinking the same thing. How long can this go on? He is getting big, but he still wants to be rocked. As long as it can be done, it will! 🙂

  14. July 27, 2010 5:20 am

    >Simply beautiful. I think about it with my baby too. It's nice to hear they still need you when they're a little older.

  15. Melissa Dondero permalink
    January 28, 2016 6:05 pm

    Please let us know how our family can help! Our prayers are with you xx

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