Everyone always talks about the "firsts" in life.
Your first memory.
Your first day of school.
Your first piano recital.
Your first time giving a speech.
Your first time driving.
Your first love.
Your first kiss.
Your first pregnancy.
Your first labor and delivery.
The first time you look into your baby's face.
That first feeling of love that sweeps over you as you gaze into the face of the tiny miracle that you made, and you know you are completely and madly in love.....forever.
The first time their grandparents and great-grandparents hold them.
As your baby grows, you also take note of their firsts.
The first time they latch and nurse flawlessly.
The first time they sleep through the night.
The first time they roll over.
Their first laugh.
The moment they take their first steps.
The first time they hold their little brother or little sister.
The first word that they speak, and the first time they call you, "Mama!"
The first time they say, "I love you."
Their first food, and their first bottle, and their first time eating "big people" food.
Their first day of school, and the first time they read a complete sentence.
We keep track of all these "firsts"- we write them down in a notebook or calendar, or we just write them in the memories of our heart.
But as my children grow and big changes start happening in my home, I am starting to see, not "firsts", but "lasts" occurring more and more often.
I sit and ponder the adult kids that I have raised. When were some of their "lasts?"
When was the last time that Tommy or Jason needed my help in the middle of the night, because they were sick? As they got older, they started dealing with illness on their own. I didn't have to get up in the middle of the night and scrub carpet where they had puked. I can't remember the last time I worried over their 104 degree temp and tried lowering it in the wee hours of the morning. I can't remember the last time I rubbed Vicks on their chest for a bad cough.
When was the last time Abby or Chloe needed my help with a recipe?
When was the last time that I had to drive Tommy or Jason anywhere?
When was the last time that I tucked them into bed, read them a story, brushed their teeth?
When was the last time that they picked me dandelions?
When was the last time they came up to me and just threw their arms around me saying, "I love you, Mama!" ?
Somewhere in the busy days of life, they grew up.
Those "first things"- reading to them, brushing the first tooth that popped through, tucking them into their "big boy" bed, or "big girl" bed, became the last time I did it. And I don't remember the lasts at all. I didn't write it down, because there is no way of knowing when those lasts will be. That's how life works. One day, we are doing everything for them, and one day, we aren't. There is no way of knowing when one memory starts and when it ends. And it makes me sad.
We never know when the mundane things of life- the things that we take for granted- will become the lasts for us. There is no set date in stone, and it's not something that we can even know to write down.
Somewhere along the way, we experienced that last time of doing something for our kids.
We experience our last pregnancy.
Our last belly picture.
Our last labor and delivery.
The last moment that we had our newborn laid on our chest, and we saw their face for the first time.
Our last time nursing. The last time that our baby latches and nurses, all while gazing blissfully up into our eyes- with pure adoration and love.
Our last time changing a diaper.
Our last time potty training.
Our last time teaching our child how to read.
Our last time teaching our child how to drive.
The last time reading a bedtime story.
The last time loading up every baby item we own just to go on a trip.
The last time one of our kids comes running into our bed in the middle of the night because they had a scary dream.
The last time having sweet morning cuddles with our baby.
The last time co-sleeping with our sweet babe.
The last time feeding our babies their first foods, and watching their firsts happen.
The last time teaching our kids how to ride a bike.
The last time teaching our girls how to bake.
The last time teaching a math problem, or explaining English, or reading a book together.
The last time being able to fix our kids' small problems- because as they get older, their small problems become big problems.
The last time having everyone together on a family vacation.
The last time having everyone around the table for a routine family dinner.
The last time staying up as a family watching a movie and eating popcorn.
The last time when everyone is together for Christmas.
The last time all your kids are in church with you. Your sons might move to another state, your daughters might marry someone out of state. They might be attending a different church someday, so enjoy the times that everyone is at church together.
I wasn't good about paying attention to my "lasts" with my kids, and I think I took all the little crazy, chaotic moments of life for granted.
Now that I see my adult kids spreading their wings and starting their own lives, I reflect a lot more, and all the "lasts" start flooding my mind and heart.
If I could say one thing to Mamas with littles, it's this- pay attention to the firsts, for sure, but pay attention and enjoy all the "middle moments" of life as well.
For soon, those routine, daily, Mama things that we do, will become the "lasts" that we experience with our kids.
And while our kids will always need us in some way, it changes as they age.
Soon those "firsts" will be distant memories, and they will have become your "lasts".
Pay attention and embrace the chaos, Mamas. It goes by so fast, and someday, you will be like me, wondering when those special, mundane, routine, beautiful lasts happened.