(photo by Cassema Photography)
Often, we are so sad to see our little ones getting bigger.
Stop growing, we beg.
If only moments could be frozen and we could go back and hold them tight, rock them in our arms. Our babies.
But reality, whatever it is, keeps us moving. And like that, our babies are no longer babies. And while we swore we simply blinked our eyes and there they were--little, functioning beings, right before us, laughing, walking, and talking--it's the bits and pieces of time that got us where we are that keep us going, that we must treasure... and then let go.
But where do they go, those moments that have us wrapped around their tiny fingers?
Sleepless nights over the past year, I recall holding 18.5 inches of warm, squishy baby atop her nursing pillow and each week I'd look down, snuggle her little body, growing longer and longer until her head and toes reached each side; the pillow, now tucked behind our rocking chair as she jumps out of my arms and onto the bed, laughing. Choosing books. Speaking, unlike the baby of just one year ago.
I closed my eyes each of those nights, starving for sleep but feeling such comfort in the way I'd watch her in the dark, slowly but surely becoming the little happy girl she is today, and the young woman she has yet to become (that I cannot--do not--want to imagine, just yet...)
And while I understand the feeling of wanting to stop time, stop the growth, keep my baby forever, I want her to know one of the most important aspects of life she could ever learn: No matter how old we become, we never, ever stop growing.
Recently, I've been immersing myself in the teachings of Dr. Wayne Dyer, and over and over I hear him talking about how we are no longer the person that occupied that baby body, toddler body, teenage body, middle aged body. And that even just a few minutes ago, we are not the same...
And as I met friends who encouraged me to "grow myself" through inspirational reading, I was reminded of the fact that even when we reach our 18 to 20 year old self, when we no longer grow physically, the person/soul/substance inside is forever expanding.
I distinctly remember as a kid seeing my family members at the holidays and they'd gush, "Oh you are getting SO big," and I'd look in the mirror later and wonder what the heck they were talking about. Because to me, I was the same; felt the same on the inside. Was I really growing that much?
I look in the mirror now and realize that even "the same on the inside" is never the case. While I certainly gave them growth to measure, to see before their eyes, this kind of "forever growth" is what makes life so special. It's the reason we're here.
Forever growth is learning to give and express love. To realize that love is truly all there is, regardless of the anger and hate and violence that surround us.
Forever growth is learning to quiet the negative voices in the mind that haunt us day in and day out, telling us that we're not good enough. Not enough. (Quiet, voices. Please.)
Forever growth is learning to forgive, no matter how badly we're hurting. Not only forgiving those who have wronged us, or the negative events in our lives which hurt so badly, but learning to forgive ourselves. That sometimes, our best doesn't have to be enough, because no matter what, we are enough. Always.
Forever growth is not giving up on the dream or vision we have inside, our reason for breathing each day. The reason why we're here. (Not an accident you're here.)
Forever growth is realizing that as much as we want stuff for ourselves, that when we share our hearts with others (once we realize we ARE whole, no matter what) and dedicate all that we have to help others do the same, then everything else we could ever want shows up anyway. (Trust and know that it will.)
It is knowing that even if we are having a bad day, we can choose to stop the day from affecting us in the next days to come...or even in the moments after, we realize that we have the power to make it better, now.
And it is fully enjoying what we've got in the moment, acknowledging that our past (good or bad) is done, and the future is always now.
This afternoon (now yesterday) my daughter opened the cabinet and pulled out my old Winnie the Pooh alarm clock that my mom gave me sometime in my elementary school years. I didn't think much of it at the time other than, Oh I forgot about that clock.
That night, I looked down at the floor and saw that the hands on the clock had stopped. The clock that had measured so many moments from there to here. All of the old "me's" that were once my mother's baby. The clock that went right into the cupboard when I went to sleep in my baby's room so my husband could get some rest in our bedroom without the tick, tick, tick in his ear, of time moving away.
And as I watch my baby run and laugh, as happy as can be, I know in years to come my arms will ache for those sleepless nights where I snuggled her in the dark. To feel her soft baby skin against my arms, and breathe in her baby kisses. Hear her tiny voice, words not fully making sense, even though finally, with her here, the world all just simply makes sense.
But instead of feeling the ache of past memories, if I cry, they will only be happy tears with a nostalgic smile because my baby is growing, growing, and the beauty in that, there are no words to describe it, other than expressing to her this:
I love you and the person you are becoming. Grow, my dear little one, and never, ever stop.
(photos by Fairy Dust Photography)