Posted: Dec 04, 2013 6:00 AM
 
As I savor the moments of my last baby and everything I love about having a tiny person in our home, I'm finding the balance between feeling overly sentimental and moving ahead.

Last night, I watched my 9-month-old sleep for a good few minutes after lying him down. I watched his chest slowly rise and fall, his lips intermittently mimic sucking and his hands reach out, raking the crib sheet in search of his favorite blanket. While I've always been one to mentally record my babies' moments, filing them in "You're Going to Miss This" preservation folders in my head, I'm even more aware of the babyhood window that's quickly closing this time around. Our family feels complete, and for the first time in parenthood, we're packing things up and passing them on after our boy grows out of them rather than storing them away for the next baby. So I take a lot of mental notes — like how my son still sucks when he sleeps or stretches his hands far above his head when he wakes up — because it's my last chance to record it.

Our family feels complete, and for the first time in parenthood, we're packing things up and passing them on after our boy grows out of them rather than storing them away for the next baby.

It wasn't long after Dash was born though, that I realized my sentimental heart needed some reins. Making note to enjoy something because it might be the last time can quickly shift from gratitude to panic — like frantically driving to the beach to get there before the sun sets.

I found myself, in an attempt to drink up these sweet fleeting moments of babyhood, sometimes feeling too aware, making note of silly things. Like "this is the last package of newborn diapers we'll ever buy" or "this is the last gummy smile we'll ever enjoy." I mean, if you want to take awareness to the moon, you might as well be sad about everything that's fleeting. Like after today, I'll never ever be 34 years, 11 months and one day old. Enjoy it! Focus on the beauty of this exact age right now because tomorrow it's gone!

I find a middle mental place that allows me to enjoy these fleeting moments without gripping them too tightly, and to love where we are yet like where we are headed.

Last baby does feel pretty final though. And I'd be lying if I said "last" doesn't make me a little sad. But I also know that I could have 10 kids and still mourn that there wouldn't be an eleventh. As my husband says, "You can't keep having babies just because you love having babies. You'll always love having babies."

So I find a middle mental place that allows me to enjoy these fleeting moments without gripping them too tightly, and to love where we are yet like where we are headed. My cousin once told me about her three girls who were growing up, "Enjoying the stage your child is in is like trying to hold water in your hand when it's trickling through your fingers too quickly. You can't focus on the fact that you're losing water in your hand — you have to focus on the new puddle that's forming outside of your hand. It's pretty awesome."

I'll miss newborn swaddles. And gummy smiles. But right now there's an amazing toothy grin that slays me. And hundreds of more firsts in our future. Onward.

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