If I had a magical mirror, I would not wish for eternal beauty. I would wish to slow the hands of time.
I might even wish for a pause. A pause in time to just catch my breath and freeze the way daughter is right this very second. Before becoming a parent, people warned me that I would blink my eyes and my daughter would go from a tiny, perfect bundle in my arms to asking for the car keys. My daughter is only a toddler and time is already moving at such an accelerated pace that I cannot absorb all of the changes that happen day to day.
Father Time always seems to be the uninvited guest at childhood birthday parties. My daughter has six little friends and the majority have birthdays that fall within one month of one another. As these seven tiny tots gather to celebrate, we parents sit back and marvel at how much our munchkins have changed in the thirty brief days since we last gathered.
We watch these seven run around and giggle when only a few short months ago they could not even roll over. As we chime in to sing the “Happy Birthday” song once again, I make a wish of my own as the candles are blown out…to keep her little, if only for a moment.
Since I do not possess a magical mirror, here are some alternatives to pressing the pause button:
Wish #1 To Keep You Little: When You Were In My Belly
I endured a long, hard road before finally becoming pregnant with my daughter, Madeline. Maybe it was because of all of my struggles, but I loved being pregnant. I did not even mind morning sickness. I would emerge from the bathroom and weakly announce to my husband, “They say the sicker the mom, the healthier the baby!”
If you are currently expecting your own little miracle, there are a few things you can do to preserve these nine months that will fly by before you know it.
- Keep a journal- Journals Unlimited makes beautiful spiral bound journals that you can fill in, as well as add your own notes and memories
- Take a weekly/monthly photo of your belly- You have never been more beautiful, Mama! Rock that baby bump!
- Do a 3D/4D ultrasound- These ultrasounds are pricey, but Groupon has great specials and it is worth every penny to “see” your baby wiggle in their watery home.
Wish #2 To Keep You Little: The Day You Were Born
I thought I was ready for my little one’s arrival. I thought I had everything planned out, but it just goes by so fast. No matter how many hours you push or whether you require surgery, before you know it this perfect, tiny bundle is placed in your arms and you beg for time to stop. As you breathe in that sweet baby smell and kiss every one of your baby’s perfect features, go ahead and stop time.
Kick everyone out of your room. That’s right, everyone. Mama and Dada should each take their own 1:1 time to perform their own finger and toe inspection, make their own promises, and cry their own tears of fear, relief, and joy. Instead of taking a picture of this moment, lock it up in your heart for safe keeping.
Wish #3 To Keep You Little: Right Before You Started Walking
I have a friend who was so anxious for his daughter to start walking. He was giddy with excitement and literally could not wait for those first steps. My daughter is a few months older and I tried to tell him to savor this time and not to wish his time away. As I chase after my daughter, who only briefly walked before she ran, I like to say, “Remember when you were a blob?” She was a cute blob, but a blob. If I gently laid her down, she would stay there.
Oh, those were the days! The best way to preserve this time is to get out your camera! This will be probably the only time in your child’s young life where you can snap as many photos as your heart desires. Soon your child will develop ants in their pants and all of your photos will be one giant blur.
Wish #4 To Keep You Little: When I Held You In My Arms to Feed You
I spent a great deal of time researching and fretting over whether or not I would be able to breastfeed. I had my share of troubles at the beginning, but once my daughter and I got into our groove, nursing really did become the most natural thing in the world. I take a certain amount of pride in knowing that my body was able to produce the perfect nutrition for my baby.
Even if you never nursed or you are the dad, there is something about holding your baby while you feed him. You revel in the closeness and listening to their contented little sighs. As your child grows, holding while feeding becomes impossible and meal time results in abstract art being painted upon your floor.
However, you can still make feeding a close, bonding experience. You can bring your child with you to the grocery and ask him or her to help picking out the groceries. You can ask your child to help you prepare meals and bestow them with their very own bowl and mixing spoon. Your child may not pass out after a meal after getting “milk drunk”, but you can still make memories centered around good food and time together as a family.
Wish #5 To Keep You Little: Being Your Favorite Playmate
I have not passed this stage yet. I am still my daughter’s favorite playmate. She is always bringing me toys, dolls, and a variety of other objects to engage me in play. Her face will look up at me, her face eager with anticipation, and I cannot help but to feel her excitement. She is my favorite playmate, also. Of course, I also work from home and have a never ending list of chores and errands to accomplish. I cannot always drop everything I am doing and play, but I try to as often as possible.
If you can put off your “to do” list for even fifteen minutes and get down on the floor and play, do it. Before long your little one will not want to play with you. He or she will have friends and playmates their own age and you will not be nearly as interesting. Savor this time and if you can, capture it on video for when your child gets older and claims to be bored. Show them how much fun you had with a paper towel holder and a handful of pipe cleaners.
Wish #6: To Keep You Little: Every Time You Grow Out Of Your Clothes
Just this week I went through all of my daughter’s clothes and packed away all of the cute little outfits that she has since grown out of. She grows so quickly that sometimes she never even has a chance to wear those cute little outfits that I so lovingly picked out. When my daughter was born, I was so proud of her chubby cheeks and chunky thighs. She has maintained those sweet cheeks, but she has lost quite a few rolls. I want her to grow and become healthy and strong, but oh how I miss kissing those deliciously meaty thighs!
Instead of dwelling in the past, we can celebrate how big they are and congratulate ourselves for our part in the miracle of life. Here are some funs ways to celebrate:
- Choose your favorite outgrown outfits and piece them together to make a quilt. You can make new memories snuggling together under your quilt of baby food stained onesies.
- Check out Pinterest for a variety of hand print and foot print crafts. You can even create ones for each holiday to mark your child’s growth and festively decorate your home.
Wish #7 To Keep You Little: When You Have Never Been Hurt
Sure my daughter has received her share of bumps and bruises while toddling around. Teething is no picnic and we just survived her first stomach flu. But she has never really been hurt. She has never been let down or had her heart broken. I want to shield her from every ache, pain, and heartache, but I know it is impossible. I want to keep my little girl in a bubble, but I also want her to experience all that the world has to offer. And with joy, comes sorrow.
When the time comes that my daughter comes to me with her first real hurt, I vow to listen attentively and empathize, no matter how trivial the heartache may seem to an adult. I will strive to be a sounding board while also teaching her strategies to problem solve. Most importantly, I promise to hold her, kiss her, and love her until the pain of that heartache becomes only a dull roar.
We cannot stop our children’s growth and we really do not want to…most of the time. What we can do is make time to stop and take stock of all of the precious little moments that go by way too fast. Our children’s bright futures will be upon us all too soon, so for right now let’s just enjoy them being little as they will never again be as little as they are today.
Read this and my other articles on Creative Child.com by clicking here.