Let them be little… I hear that phrase over and over and over it seems like, and every time, it makes me want to cry a little. My sweet babies are growing up right before my eyes. And – I say this with every terrible two moment, every sass, every sleepless night in mind – I am not ready.
A few months ago, my two year old learned to climb out of her crib. She was shown, actually, by her older sister. We were thrilled. Literally almost every night since then, bedtime has been a three hour ordeal.
I can’t tell you how devastated this makes us. Raya was the best sleeper I’d ever known. She was in bed by 7-7:30 every night, slept until 7 the next morning and took two naps a day. Everyday. Up until the day her sister helped her climb out of her crib, a couple of weeks before her second birthday. Since then every night is a series of putting her to bed, her getting up, getting in trouble, getting put back to bed, over and over and over, for at least three hours. It’s so bad that my husband and I dread nighttime, and “fight” over who gets to hold the baby (knowing, of course, that whoever’s hands are free, will have to deal with Raya).
As if bedtime isn’t difficult enough, we often wake up to the big overhead light above our bed being flicked on at 2 a.m. when Raya wakes up and comes into our room to say hello and ask us to play with her. I’ve never seen my husband jump out of bed so quickly as he did the first week of this. Talk about startling. Deep sleep + sudden bright light turning on right above you = an instant assumption that either there’s an intruder in the house, or the second coming is upon us! Either way, it’s something you want to be on your feet for. It takes a few moments to realize that it’s just a cute little hazel eyed blonde, wearing high heels, pushing her baby in the baby stroller, with a purse over her arm and an Easter bonnet on her head.
Once we put her back to bed (sometimes several times a night), she’s up again at 6 a.m. Add in the fact that we have a newborn, and it’s safe to say we’re living on caffeine and the dream that one day our children will all sleep through the night and so will we. For now, we have a French press and a 12 pack of Mountain Dew in the fridge. Is that healthy, you ask. No. It’s not. We know it’s not. But we have run out of toothpicks to prop our eyelids open with.
However, even dead on our feet tired, buzzing on caffeine, exhausted from disciplining, she smiles her sweet little smile, throws her chubby little arms around my neck and kisses my cheek, or her joy-filled giggles dance like music through the room, and my heart whispers, “Slow down, time.”
As I fold and store away the newborn clothes my last baby is starting to outgrow, my heart whispers, “Slow down, time.”
As I clean spaghetti sauce off messy little faces, scrub crayon off the dining room wall, lift wet toddlers out of the bath tub, and trim little nails, my heart whispers, “Slow down, time.”
Because these little humans who disrupt my sleep, rearrange my best made plans, crowd into the bathroom with me, and monopolize any possible moment of silence throughout my days – are the absolute best part of my life. They have brought me so much joy and love and laughter. They make my heart sing, and bring new meaning to my life. They are my best friends and companions and will be my shopping partners for the rest of my life. And right now, they’re beautifully little – with all the challenges that come along with it. Tomorrow they will wake up older, and they will never be this little again. They’ll change and grow and develop. They’ll go from babies to toddlers to girls to women, and I will never get these precious moments back with them. They will only be a memory – ones that I treasure in my heart, but can never revisit.
So, today, I will let them be little. I will drink another cup of coffee and enjoy this precious, beautiful and fleeting moment of having young children. Sleep will return. Time for volunteering, having friends, and reading for pleasure will be possible again. Right now, my babies are little – and that is not something I can get back. So I will hold them as much as they’ll let me, hug them tight to my chest, and let my heart remind me to slow down.