Yesterday on Facebook, I saw a photo of my nephew sleeping, and I was completely dumbstruck. He’s only eleven but…He didn’t look 11. He looked just like my brother. My 40-year old brother who sports a boyish grin and the same dark curly hair and who gives great hugs, who happens to be his dad– so of course they will look alike, right? But in a completely different way, my nephew looked unlike the little boy who bubbles up with contagious excitement when he finds a warty, slimy frog.. and more like a grown-up version of himself. And it struck me as wonderful and yet it hurt a little bit.
Because every night before going to sleep, I check on my own little ones… who are the beautiful main reasons that “the days are long..” but instead of seeing that “the years are short..” I look into their upturned faces, all relaxed in peaceful dreaming and lightly fluttering eyelashes… and I see my babies. Something happens when they sleep— they lose all sense of bigness and its like their little faces remember what baby looks like and put it on for me to see.
And I know it may not always be so. I am quite certain that for years, that little 11-yr old’s mom has checked on him, and seen her baby. And I wonder when and how it happens that they start to grow up overnight.
But she knows, because when I was an exhausted mom with a 5 day old baby, she called me all the way in North Carolina and said, “Hold her as much as you want. Don’t worry about spoiling her. You cannot hold a baby too much.”
And she was right. Because here I stand, 5 ft. tall with a 6’1″ husband whose children will definitely grow taller than me long before they’re grown.
And the babies that used to fit into little burrito-swaddled bundles, have long lean limbs that just about reach down past my knees when they sit with me.
And you can’t slow time. Except one moment at a time. And when I check on them at night, I take an extra moment to wonder what they dream. To watch their faces reflect the day. To know that the curves of baby-ness are slowly leaving their faces, and being replaced by the echoes of their future.
And I thank God that they keep right on growing and that I could not stop this train even if I wanted to. Which I don’t.
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