Oh my goodness. My sweet baby girl. She’s 5! Something about being a whole hand makes her seem definitively, unquestionably a kid and NOT a baby. NOT a toddler. NOT little in any way.
And I’m not sad. I need to correct this, because I think I’ve communicated this pseudo-sadness to some people. Because I’m supposed to be sad, right? I’m supposed to cry that she’s not a baby. I’m supposed to mourn the fact that she’s not tiny. When people ask how old she is, I’m supposed to say “5! And I’m struggling! She’s not a baby anymore!” Maybe even toss in some pretend tears. This is another one of those default cultural things I’ve fallen into (like automatically hating Mondays), and I want to fix it. I feel like so much of motherhood is mourning the growth. Mourning how fast time is flying. Mourning how our babies grow to not need us as much. Mourning the stages passed.
But, honestly? This is amazing! I love watching her grow! She can dress herself entirely (and has requested “more pants with buttons and zippers”). She is brave. Y’all, she is reading! And that whole experience is fascinating. She is so creative, and she invents her own games and play scenarios. She feeds the baby! Still can’t convince her to change him, darn. She is developing dreams and such a unique personality. She asks me the best, worst, and weirdest questions.
“Can I just live near you and Dad forever?” You can live wherever you want to adventure, baby! Please let it be close to me and Dad…
“Do you think dying hurts?” Oh baby, I don’t know. But we don’t have to fear it, I know that.
“What if our whole family was squirrels? Would we still wear clothes?” Umm…haha I guess we could?
“Do you think I could send a message to every boy in the world?” Umm…why? “I just need to tell them I do NOT want to get married…” Haha, well you don’t have to if you don’t want to, my love. You also don’t have to decide today!
I can’t wait to watch her keep growing. Keep learning. Keep dreaming. Keep adventuring. I don’t want to mourn as she is becoming who she is supposed to become.
Now please don’t mishear me, I do get sad thinking about my tiny bebes sometimes. Nostalgia can be beautiful, but it can also be painful! Did you know the etymology of the word “nostalgia” can be traced to Greek, nostos–homecoming + algos–pain, grief? I love to reminisce, to think back to when she was so tiny she could barely make a noise. She sounded like a little kitten those first couple of weeks. Eventually, she asked for “bewwies” in her pancakes, and for some inexplicable reason couldn’t pronounce “fruit loops” and always asked for “soo-soups”. And I know someday when she leaves my house, as she should, I will hurt because that part of our relationship is over. Hank turning 3 this year actually did give me some tough feels, not really sure why that one was harder! So those times of sadness in remembering aren’t weird or even necessarily bad. I just don’t want to make that my default.
Since becoming a mom, thanks to this incredible 5 year old, there’s a Bible verse that has gained significant meaning for me. In Luke 2, we see Mary travel, pregnant, to give birth to Jesus, Savior of the world, and place him in a manger. A manger?! Then angels come and shepherds come and all who come are amazed! And sweet, quiet little Mary, “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart”. I love that sentiment. Treasure. Ponder. Mourning would come for Mary, but not in these tender moments of birth. And growth. She got to watch, ponder, and treasure her child. The one who came for all.
My children are amazing and incredible to me, but they are certainly not the Christ child (and I am MOST certainly not the Madonna). I want to take the ordinary, unique and beautiful things about them, and treasure them. Ponder them. But never mourn them. In the quiet, ordinary moments of our days together, I think of that verse all the time. And I try to treasure. Memorize those mundane living room moments as we’ve just finished breakfast, and everyone is sticky and half dressed between PJs and play clothes. When there’s make-me-melt moments of sweetness between siblings, and when there’s moments tears from not sharing or “he didn’t think my tower was cool”.
I love watching them grow. That is ultimately, what they are supposed to do. And rather than habitually mourn how fast it is going (and boy is it going fast), I choose to treasure and celebrate. I am so excited she is 5. I am so excited she is growing so strong and brave. I am so excited for our whole family to grow through these stages of life together.