As a mom, people always tell you to celebrate the firsts: first steps, first words, first day of school. What they don’t tell you, is how to celebrate the lasts. There will come a day when you change your last diaper, strap your last car seat, warm up a bottle, swaddle a baby, buy something in a newborn size. Many times you don’t even know it’s the last until you realize you haven’t done it for a while. But those bittersweet moments should be cherished and memorized just as reverently, for those too mark the growth of your baby.
Today, out of the blue, came what I’m pretty sure is a last. As I dropped Lucy off at school and turned to go, she did something she hasn’t done for a while. I didn’t even realize it had been so long until she called, “Mama!” I turned and saw her racing toward me. She wrapped her arms around me, buried her face in my stomach and said, “Bye Mom!” Then she was off and running without a backwards glance. She did it without a thought, without caring if the other kids saw her. I knew immediately that this might not ever happen again. I wanted to say “Wait! I wasn’t ready!” and to grab her back and hug her with all my heart.
What I did instead was try to burn the feel of her hug into my memory, and then walk to my car, crying and smiling. And I didn’t even care if the other moms saw me.