The one piece of advice I received over and over again while I was pregnant was to cherish the moments I had. I was told that times with my little one wouldn’t last and the next thing I knew I would blink and he’d be a grown man. I was warned that I wouldn’t realize when the last time was the last time for a lot of things so I needed to cherish every chance I got.
I took these words to heart. I decided that being present in my son’s life every day and celebrating the smallest accomplishments, recognizing the little milestones, and reveling in every moment was important to me. I consistently think about that old saying every day – the days are long, but the years are short. I recognized this time as fleeting and I wanted to catch all the last times and paint them to memory.
I’ve been thinking about these last times a lot lately. I was lamenting the other day that my baby doesn’t like to cuddle with me anymore. I realized I don’t actually remember the last time he fell asleep on my chest and my heart constricted. I didn’t know it was going to be the last time so I didn’t get the chance to properly capture that moment to my highlight reel. This seemingly small loss hit me really hard. I didn’t want to miss these last times.
But, in my focus on these last times I was forgetting to be present. I was missing out on those smallest accomplishments and littlest milestones. I was missing the first times.
So, today we decided to have a big first. We decided to make the drive to Virginia Beach, walk the boardwalk, get some seafood, and let Lincoln experience a big first. Lincoln got to have his first trip to the beach. He got to witness the expanse and power of the ocean. He got to feel the sand beneath his toes and the sun on his face. And I was there for it all.
I got to be there for this major first in his life, among many others. These first times are revolutionary. These are the memory makers, the changers, the pages in our scrapbooks, and the photos on our camera rolls. Life is full of these firsts and they are beautiful.
So, while I don’t look forward to the last time he breastfeeds, the last time he crawls into bed with me, the last time I get to read him his bedtime story, and many more last times with him – I realize now that these last times are a sign of growth. They mark his first steps into a world of independence. They mark the changes he’s making as he grows into his own. And they are a marker of time with me.
But these first times are what really matter. These first times will outlast the last times. His life and mine will be peppered with many, many first times together. And so I choose to look for the first times, to focus on those moments, and to celebrate them every day.
Because the days are long, but the years are short. And that is what makes life beautiful.