Many years ago—eight, to be exact—I wrote separate poems for each of my three (at the time) children. I silk-screened their black-and-white pictures behind the words, printed them out, framed each one, and wrapped them up for Christmas. The purpose of this was twofold. One, because I wanted to capture the way I felt about being a mother at that exact moment in time. And two, because I needed another gift under the tree for each child, and those three gifts were cheap. I mean, that particular year we’d already wrapped up an Xbox, a television, new bikes all around, and a basketball goal. I had about twenty bucks left, and it cost me nothing but time to scribble out some words. Add that to the fact that Hobby Lobby frames were half-price that week, and it was nothing short of a Christmas miracle.
Then Christmas morning rolled around. I was proud of my super-personal poems. Fought back a wave of emotion as I watched the kids rip into them. I might’ve even shed a tear or two.
Alas, to say they were less than thrilled to open those frames is an understatement. Without needing to rehash that black mark on my Christmas memories, let’s just say they tossed them aside with the shredded wrapping paper and stepped on them in their rush to grab the next present.
Whatever. I wasn’t bitter. Much.
Because I liked my gifts. In fact, later that day I hung each of them in my children’s rooms. (Side note: I took them down about a year ago and stuffed them under my bed. I just couldn’t look at them anymore without guilt creeping in. Because the poem I wrote for my fourth child never made it out of my spiral notebook. And the picture I took for that intended frame is lost on a disc somewhere inside one of my kitchen cabinets).
Anyway, I dragged the poems out before bed last night and read through each one. Somewhere near the middle of one poem, I had written a list of all my “firsts” that had happened for the last time back then. Such as…
The last time I heard my newborn cry for the very first time. The last time I saw my baby smile for the very first time. The last time I heard my child laugh for the very first time. The last time I witnessed my baby take a very first step. The last time I heard my baby say “Momma” for the very first time. Those things were all behind me, and the feeling was bittersweet. Because I’d dreamed of being a mom my whole life, and suddenly I was there. And all of my children were born. And my children were growing fast. But really…back then, I had no idea that fast would only get faster.
Since I wrote those poems all those years ago, we had another baby girl. A surprise. A great one. Another beautiful chance to relive all those firsts that I had thought were over.
I dropped off that baby girl at kindergarten today.
It’s the last time I’ll ever do that.
In a blur of about two thousand days, my daughter has already cried her first cry…smiled her first smile…laughed her first laugh…cut her first tooth…walked her first step…said her first word…ridden her first bicycle…skinned her first knee…written her first letter…cut her first clump of hair…and gone off on her first day of school. There’s a whole bunch of others, but like I said, it’s been a blur.
So now, in what feels like just a few short years, I’m back where I started. Figuring out that the “firsts” are beginning to catch up to the “lasts.”
Yesterday was my daughter’s last day at home as a little girl who hadn’t yet started school. This year is my younger son’s last year of elementary school. Next year is my older son’s last year of high school. (My older daughter, for now, is just sorta hanging out. She did, however, tell me I was never allowed to pluck her eyebrows again. So that’s kind of a last…I guess).
Anyway, my kids are growing. Time is spinning fast. Faster than I ever imagined it could.
And sometimes…just sometimes…I wish I could revisit those very first smiles.
Just one last time.
(Who will return to her regularly scheduled, meaningless posts in a few short days)