I know I can’t slow you down, my child so instead I will slow myself down so that I don’t regret my speed in your inevitable growth.
Our family sat squished together on the couch, our eyes glued to the holiday home movies of my husband. Our bellies bounced with laughter at the younger version of their Daddy. Not embarrassed, he watched the movies with joy-filled eyes and a smile of sweetness for his youth. I watched his mother in the videos; her expressions were equally loving and stern, as holidays always surface the spectrum of emotions. I thought about her feelings that year, looking at her children headed to college soon. She probably thought, that it went by too fast, their childhood was a blink, and I think under the holiday smiles and cheer, she probably said silently to her children, “Slow down.”
I remember like it’s permanently etched in my heart and mind, the moment I saw his squirmy red body moving on that baby scale.
It felt like slow motion. I worked hard for him. I was exhausted and at peace that he was here. Resting in the hospital bed, I stared at his ringed legs while he kicked the sides of the scale. For a brief moment, I wasn’t in a rush.
But I had wished for speed when it came to pregnancy. Speed to get pregnant, speed to go through pregnancy and speed in labor.
I longed for speed to bring the morning and stop the endless night wakings. Speed to stop the nursing, pumping, baby food purees and eventually, diapers.
And now I yearn for slow.
Slow down, child.
I can’t remember when I removed your last onesie from your dresser, but they’re gone now.
The baby carrier that held your sweet little body can never hold your weight again.
I record your milestones and childhood memories in my head and they flash back at unexpected moments. “Wait, wasn’t that just yesterday?” I catch myself saying more than I can count.
Slow down, child.
I watch as the seasons change, holidays come and go and the photos and memories accumulate. Pages of baby books left unwritten. Life is too fast. Hurry. Hurry. Hurry.
Do I want back your infant days or do I fear the next phase of life for both you and I?
What would I do if I had those infant days back again?
Why am I afraid of going forward?
I can’t catch the speed of your childhood. But today I can slow down; going forward I can go slow.
I will stop what I’m doing when you say “Mom.” Because I know there will be a day when you won’t call out to me for help.
I will listen to the stories you tell me because I want you to know I genuinely care about your life’s joys, sadness, dreams and triumphs.
I will watch with concentration when you engage in the activities you love because I find joy in what matters to you.
I will always ask to hold your hand, put my arm around you and of course, give you hugs and kisses. I will always hold you the longest.
I will resist and reject the many temptations that make me speed away from you.
I know I can’t slow you down, my child so instead I will slow myself down so that I don’t regret my speed in your inevitable growth. Because while many years from now, I know you will have children and you will inevitably know these feelings too. You’ll watch me smile in our home movies and yes I’ll scorn the speed of time, but I won’t regret how we spent it.
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Photos by Sarah Hudson Photography.