Let Me Hold You Longer
By: Karen Kingsbury
"Long ago you came to me, a miracle of firsts:
First smiles and teeth and baby steps, a sunbeam on the burst.
But one day you will move away and leave to me your past,
And I will be left thinking of a lifetime of your lasts.
The last time that I held a bottle to your baby lips.
The last time that I lifted you and held you on my hip.
The last time when you woke up crying needing to walked.
When last you crawled up with your blanket, wanting to be rocked.
The last time that you ran to me still small enough to hold,
The last time when you said you'd marry me when you grew old.
Precious, simple moments and bright flashes from the past -
Would I have held you longer if I'd known they were the last?
Our last adventure to the park, your final midday nap,
The last time when you wore your favorite faded baseball cap.
Your last few hours of kindergarten, last days of first grade,
Your last at bat in Little League, last colored picture made.
I never said goodbye to all your yesterdays long past.
So what about tomorrow -- will I recognize your lasts?
The last time that you catch a frog in that old backyard pond.
The last time that you run barefoot across our fresh-cut lawn.
Silly, scattered images will represent your past.
I keep on taking pictures, never quite sure of your lasts...
The last time that I comb your hair or stop a pillow fight.
The last that I pray with you and tuck you in at night.
The last time that we cuddle with a book, just me and you.
The last time you jump in our bed and sleep between us two.
The last piano lesson, last vacation to the lake.
Your last few weeks of middle school, last soccer goal you make.
I look ahead and dream of days that haven't come to pass.
But as I do, I sometimes miss today's sweet, precious lasts...
The last time that I help you with a math or spelling test.
The last when I should that yes, your room is still a mess.
The last time that you need me for a ride from here to there.
The last time that you spend the night with your old tattered bear.
My life keeps moving faster, stealing precious days that pass.
I want to hold on longer -- want to recognize your lasts...
The last time that you need my help with details of a dance.
The last time that you ask me for advice about romance.
The last time that you talk to me about your hopes and dreams.
The last time that you wear a jersey for your high school team.
I've watched you grow and barely noticed seasons as they pass.
If I could freeze the hands of time, I'd hold on to your lasts.
For come some bright fall morning you'll be going far away.
College life will beckon in a brilliant sort of way.
One last hug, one last good-bye, one quick and hurried kiss.
One last time to understand just how much you will be missed.
I'll watch you leave and think how fast our times together passed.
Let me hold on longer God, to every precious last.
I have been a little sad lately, thinking that soon, Trae will no longer be my baby, and soon, Elliot will be a 1st grader, and soon Brookelyn will quit asking me to tuck her in, and soon I'll meet my last baby. I keep trying to avoid this train of thought because I don't want to imagine my kids all grown up and not needing me. When I mention to people that this is going to be so hard having my last baby, I've had a few comments like why, after 4 kids would you be sad? It's not that I want a dozen, 4 is plenty to support and give attention and nurture. It's just that I am anticipating that last time I'll feel a new life move within me, or the last time I'll birth a baby and meet him for the first time. The last time I nurse my baby to sustain him, and the last 1st birthday party. All the baby gear will need to be sold, the clothes can be gone through and gotten rid of, and we'll never hold a tiny baby that belongs to us.
When I was expecting Trae, we had talked about him possibly being our last baby. I made sure I held on to every moment and tried to ingrain it in my heart all the feelings of him moving and how I felt watching him sleep, and wished I could bottle his smell. I nursed him for 14 months, way longer than my other two. I know I should have let him cry himself to sleep in his own bed, instead of pulling him in by me and cuddling him and letting him remain there. But then I'd think that this might be the last baby that would want to sleep with me and run his fingers through my hair and sigh in my ear. Of course, he did everything earlier than my other 2, just to stress the point in my head, that this could be our last baby and how fast he was growing up.
By the time that we decided we wanted the 4 children we always talked about, I was already (unknowingly) expecting. A lot of the fear that I had about having troubles conceiving again were put to rest when I got pregnant without even trying. I had a hard time thinking about getting pregnant again because I was so afraid of it taking so long again, or worse, losing another baby. Now, though, this is it. We have the family we've always dreamed of. I just can't seem to get past that "last" feeling of dread. I am fine with the 4 kid thing, just not fine with never experiencing this feeling of happiness at the prospect of our impending arrival and all those overwhelming feeling that go with each new first. All the moments that take your breath away as you watch them grow. I wouldn't change a thing, but it's still hard to think that I'll never have a tiny daughter to hold. Not that I wanted a boy, because I think he'll fit in just perfectly and was perfect for our family. It's just the thought of Brookelyn never having a sister to share secrets with and talk about boys. I had all that. What I didn't have were brothers who could protect me and bring their friends over so I could ogle them. So I know that she'll survive, it's just that she'll not experience that bond that you can have with a sister.
A tribute to my children:
Elliot, you are my outdoors man. You love to do everything daddy does. You can even exaggerate the size of a fish as good as he does. You can name lures by name and talk about gun models I have no idea about. You are protective of your sister with other kids, but competitive with her when it comes to attention from me and mostly, dad. You are about to start 1st grade, and can hardly wait! You have so many friends and know so many people by name...I think you get that from me, remembering people's names well. You are getting so tall and I can barely pick you up. I never imagined you'd grow this fast and that your life would change our lives so dramatically. The moment is knew I was carrying you, I loved you. You gave us all our "first" experiences with being parents. Everything you did was cute and every time you were sick, I rushed you in to make sure you would be okay. The moment I laid eyes on you, I knew I was meant to be a mother. If that was the only thing in life I ever did, that would be okay with me. I love you Bud, and even though you're big and you know better and sometimes make mistakes, I'm still so proud of you. You have so much energy and are always up for anything. You (almost) always have a smile. You are growing into a little man, and as hard as it is to watch, it's exciting to see you mature and turn into daddy. I think you are the last to get my attention, and I'm sorry about that...it's just that you are the most independant and can do things for yourself easier than the other kids. Remember you are my guy, and I love you so much, always.
Brookelyn, my tiny, tiny, girl. I just knew you'd be a girl, even though you were stubborn and wouldn't let us get a peek before you were born. You had so much hair, and added so much to our perfect family. (perfect as in perfect for us, not that we are perfect) You were much harder to please than your brother, and you never seemed to need us as much as him. You had jaundice really bad when you were born, then you were diagnosed with asthma, then you had Alopecia. We've had so many worries with your health, and you were never any worse for the wear. You trail your big brother everywhere, and when he's not around you trail your little brother everywhere. People comment all the time on how you look out for you brothers, especially Trae. You always keep him out of harm's way, and if there's a treat being handed out, you make sure that you get enough for them to. You are my little helper when your big brother's away. People always said you looked so much like me. Grandpa always says you act so much like me. You like all things girly, but you're tough. You like your Independence and you'll never let people push you around. You are shy when you don't know someone, but talk their head off once you've gotten to know them a little. I was your favorite until you discovered grandma, but you always say "you and grandma are my favorite." When Trae was born, you decided that if you talked to us, you'd only talk in a whisper. I guess you really wanted us to pay attention, but we were so worried about you, but you were just being you. You've always said things that are way beyond your ears and you always want mom to tuck you in. I think you'll be okay without a sister. I think your brothers need brothers more than you need a sister. I am looking forward to shopping trips with just the 2 of us, and I'm glad that you'll always be my little girl. I think you'll love being the only girl and having dad and I all to yourself when the boys are out fishing or shooting hoops. I love you, Brooka. You make me smile everyday.
Mr. Traeman, what can I say about you? You want to be a big boy, and you want to be the baby. You are so darn cute, and you talk so well. You surprise me everyday with the new things you do and say. When it comes to daddy, you always want to be like the "big guys" and go fishing and "help" with moving heavy things and running the drill. But when mommy's around, you are content to sit in my lap and rock, fingering through my hair. Recently, you rediscovered your Nuk. At first, I didn't want to let you have it, and dad definitely didn't. But you sleep so well with it and it keeps you quiet in church. One day I realized that when you gave it up at 9 months, it was your choice. When you reunited with it again last week, it was like you picked up where you left off with an old friend. I also figured that at 18 months, you are still a baby, and that if the Nuk made you happy, I would let you have it. I think a lot of it is that I know you LOVE being the baby, and for a few short weeks, you will be the baby. But after that, you'll have to move over and allow some room for your new brother. I know you'd have been a great last baby, but you'll love your brother and you guys will be best friends. You are our little copycat. You love to play with you brother and sister, but you check in frequently with mommy for a snuggle. I love you so much, little man. Everyday I can see you growing and learning. You teach me so much about the little joys in life. We waited so long for you, and you are so worth the wait.
Tiny baby boy, I am so excited to meet you. I just know that you are going to be beautiful, more than we could ever imagine. You will have a hard job keeping up with your brother's and sister. We are having a hard time coming up with your name...I think we'll have to wait and see you to find the perfect name. I'll probably hold you to much, and try to keep you a baby as long as possible. Probably to the point of annoying and embarrassing you. I'll try not to, but you have a hard job, being mommy's last "baby." I know that we are going to adore you. Brookelyn will be like your second mommy, Trae will be you partner in crime, and Elliot will be your "cool" older brother. You'll want to be just like him, even though he'll give you noogies and tease you about girls. He'll teach you and Trae to fish and hunt, and share all his best spots with you. We can hardly wait to meet you, little man, so come see us soon. I love you to the moon and back.
With each last, there is a new first, so I know that once the baby stages are over, the next exciting thing will come. I am so glad to be your mommy and watch you guys grow. I know sometimes I can get off track and dwell to much on the house being clean and quiet, but I love you guys no matter what and I'm so proud of who you've become. Keep remembering to tell me you love me, and keep the hugs and kisses coming...I could never get enough. xoxoxoxoxxo...Mommy.