I walked through the door at MOPs for the first time 5 years ago.
I had just placed my 1 year-old in the nursery, was holding on to my 3 month-old that refused to let me put her down, and was feeling a serious combination of exhaustion and loneliness.
Being a mom was tough, much harder than I thought, and I was looking for a place to breathe.
The minute I walked through that door, someone snuggled my baby, gave me a hug and a cup of coffee and I felt my spirit grow a bit more free.
These were my people. Fellow moms who knew the everyday struggles that only infants and toddlers and preschoolers can bring. Who knew the need for friendships between moms and speakers who stirred your spirit. Who knew the comfort creamy hazelnut coffee and pumpkin bread can bring.
Five years later, I walked through that same door again this morning. However, my oldest 2 kids are in school now and only my sweet 3 year-old was by my side. His wide-gaped tooth grin and sticky face that loves to smother me in kisses beamed at me. I held his hand a little tighter as a small piercing thought came to my heart…
Motherhood of preschoolers is starting to wind down for me. Only one more year and I won’t have a constant little sidekick. There is coming a time I won’t wake up to a small figure that curls up next to me during the night, snuggles my arm close, and smells like Burt’s Bee’s Baby Shampoo. The days of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, scribbled rainbow drawings, and goldfish in every single crack and crevice you can find are near their end.
And my heart wept.
For as much as parenting newborns and infants and toddlers and preschoolers can be exhausting and even downright overwhelming at times, there is special beauty to it all. There is a joy in their innocence, a wonder at their novelty, a smile behind every time they clap their small hands and cheer just because you walked through the door.
It is enchanting, and tiring, and oh, so, so beautiful.
And it’s almost over.
I feel this need and desire to somehow take it all in. These last few moments I have with my 3 year-old. And wish I would have reveled in the previous days of infanthood and toddlerdom a little bit more intentionally. A sudden desire to turn back time and just hold that baby a bit more closer, to sing that toddler one more song at bedtime, to smash that playdoh with my preschooler instead of doing the dishes.
When people tell you to enjoy that time together you because it goes fast you want to say “HUSH” because you are in the thick of the exhaustion. But now to wake up and see they were right: it goes so, so fast. And my heart aches to think the days of littles are over.
I might mourn it a little.
Or maybe even a lot.
My babies aren’t babies anymore.
And I might need to be held more than they do now at the thought.
But, as this chapter of life ends, I look to the rest of the book with excitement. We still have a lot of chapters ahead. There is so much of their story to tell. And that is blessing to hold on to.
We still have birthday parties and Christmas during the elementary chapters. We still have first dances and dates in their high school era. We still have college and careers and loves and, yes, even more little babies, our babies’ babies, to snuggle.
That’s a stunningly beautiful novel of life ahead.
So, to the mommy about to leave the preschool age, hold on to these few last morsels of their super little days ahead. Keep walking in patience in the tantrums and in joy during new discoveries. Snuggle them a bit longer. Breathe in their baby smell a little deeper. Memorize and record and picture these sweet days for now…. Soon they will be archives in a bigger book of life. But oh, what a tender memory of gratitude they will be.