"When the kids were young..."

"Though childhood slips like sand through a sieve…
And all too soon they’ve up and grown,
and then they’ve flown…
And it’s too late for you to give..."
~ Mary Poppins

One day Steven and I will sit around talking about "when the kids were young" or "when we had little ones in the house."  Onesies will be gone for good, diapers will be a burden of the past, and we'll wish we had puzzle pieces and crayons and Sophie The Giraffe toys to pick up off the floor before going to bed.  The days of when we had small children will all be one big, beautiful memory, their childhoods already created.

Lately, this has been weighing so heavily on me.  Probably because Norah is {most likely} my last baby, I find myself feeling differently this time around.  Although it seems like our family is rounded out with two children, I still have that sad feeling that my childbearing years might be over, and this is the last time I'll have an infant in my arms. 

This is what one of my favorite authors, Sarah Bessey, calls "The Ache."  I can barely get through that entire post, because it touches the pit of my soul.  She says,

"It’s simply the Ache of time passing, because this is what time does, and our souls are noticing the passing of a season, and it’s okay. It’s okay to let it Ache. It means we’re living and it means we’re loving our life as it stands, loving it enough to notice a transition away."

Yes, I love this enough to notice that it will be gone.  Sigh.

So this time, I don't really care when Norah wakes up in the middle of the night not the least bit sleepy and looks up at me with her big, chubby, jolly smile.  This time, I get her out of her bassinet and play with her for awhile and realize that sleep can wait.  This time, I don't read tons of books on my Kindle or check my phone while I'm nursing.  I mostly just look down at her and try to memorize every detail of a sleepy, milk-drunk, contented baby, and I praise God for the ability to feed and nourish and comfort two girls in this way. 

I don't feel weird about taking a million pictures of my children.  I look back at all the photos I have of Luci Belle as a toddler and can't believe those toddler years are already gone.  I'm thankful beyond words to have so many frozen moments.

My goal as a parent is to give my children "roots and wings" and raise them to be healthy, self-assured women who hopefully love and serve the Lord.   Still, one day everything will be quiet here, and I can hardly bear to think of it. 

But today, sweet today, I still have two little ones at home.  As long and hard as the days can be, and as frustrated and wrung-out and beyond-tired I can become, I cling to the reality that I've been given a chance to be a mother, and I love this calling.  I will try to mother them the best I can, hold their childhoods in my hands as the precious commodity they are, and not let others make me feel guilty about seeing these little years as a blessing.

I will put down my fork and leave the dinner table on Thanksgiving to capture a photo of my carefree 3-year-old.  And twenty years from now, we'll look back on this image together and remember that she was a child who loved to dance in sunbeams.