There was a day when life at home with our two children felt so incredibly normal. My husband and I sat on the sofa while I held Noah on my chest and he folded a load of laundry. I remember putting my hand on Noah's back and squeezing him tightly to me. I told Daniel how I wished I could just freeze him in time. Noah although a big boy, and especially large for a heart baby with defects of his severity, was much smaller than his sister was at 3 months old. He was hovering between 11 and 12 pounds and I wanted him to stay that way "forever"... I thought. I hear myself say those words repeatedly in my head. I see the kisses placed on his head while I wished he would stay tiny and never leave me. Those are words I sometimes wish I could take back. As if my little words spoken purely out of love for that miraculous baby boy had any bearing on his future. As if those words actually froze him in time. But in the mind of a grieving mother every word that was ever said regarding the child that is no longer here carries an enormous weight.
I think of those words as I watch my daughter grow. My sweet girl has been off of the growth charts since her 2 month well baby appointment. She's the tallest in her class and has always been 1-2 sizes ahead of her age group in clothing. She's 3 1/2 and people constantly ask me if she's 5. That's just how it's always been for her. I know before Noah entered our lives I'd ask her to just stay little forever too. It's what we mommies say, right? We don't want to think of the day when our little babies are grown up (except for maybe in the middle of a tantrum). Life goes by way too fast and keeping them little bitty sure would be nice, but the death of a child changes that.
She'll say "mommy, do you want me to stay small like this?" and my new answer is "No, I want you to grow up to be the beautiful woman God created you to be.... but could you just grow slowly for mommy." She thinks it's funny. She doesn't know how my heart breaks when she says "I'm a big girl mommy, I can do it myself." I want to be happy about that. I want to be happy when she tells me she doesn't need her booster seat anymore because "I'm not a baby, mama!". Oh but little one, you are... you're my baby and right now you're the only one I've got. I imagine if Noah were the 10 month old little monster he should be that my feelings about her being a big girl would be much different. I'd probably have pushed her much farther into that big girl role than I should have because I'd be exhausted from having two children and she'd have seen my struggle over the last 10 months to be the primary caregiver to a heart baby. I'd probably be so thankful that she's gained independence and that she's relishing in her big girl and big sister title. And while of course I am honored and unbelievably grateful to watch her grow, the "I don't need your help" phase is stinging harder than I thought it would.
At the same time the thought of freezing her in time is not one that enters my mind anymore. I want to be present for every phase of her life.... the threenager phase, the 8 year old I know everything phase, the 12 year old first boyfriend phase, the 16 year old my friends are the only thing in life that matter phase, the 19 year old hey my mom's really pretty great phase, the 23 year old I think I really love him phase, the 30 year old becoming a mommy phase, the 50 year old how the hell am I 50 already phase.... after that I think I'll be okay to head on home to Noah. But I want it all for her. Just like I wanted it all for him.
So little girl, grow up. Grow taller than mommy. Learn more than mommy. Become the most incredible human being you can become. Hold my hand for as long as you can. Snuggle up next to me in bed until you think you're too big to do that anymore. Tell me you love me and that I'm your best friend every day. Tell me I'm mean. Tell me you're mad. Tell me your hopes and your dreams and trust me to stick by you through it all. But don't you stop growing. Don't you stay little. Don't you let my need for you to be my baby ever hinder your development in any way. I've already got one baby forever frozen in time... I don't need two. I'd rather watch you flourish.