I’m standing at the kitchen sink, finishing the last chore of the day – the last chore of each and every day – washing bottles. Miles is snuggled up in his crib, drifting off to sleep in this early evening hour. It’s a cloudy night; rain today, like most early Summer days in Florida. The sun is sending its beams piercing through the clouds; pink, gold, salmon, purple, all mixing with the blue-gray remnants of rain. It’s a beautiful sky; it’s a beautiful night. Just me in the kitchen, soaking up the calm and quiet.
“Soon, we’ll be weaning off of these bottles…”
This is a thought that my husband and I have had both silently and aloud for a few weeks, now. The day will soon come where neither of us will be standing at the sink at 7:45pm, staring out the window as we take apart each bottle, and diligently scrub each of its five pieces, with each of our three uniquely sized brushes.
I am all at once consumed by emotion; I thought I was ready for this next, this very big step. That I was ready for just sippy cups of water and milk; ready for no more uniquely sized brushes for the various parts of the very complicated (but very effective) bottles we had chosen long before Miles joined our lives, long before I was 41 weeks and going to the bathroom every ten minutes, long before I even put on my first pair of maternity pants. Those very, very early days of “big” decisions: bottles, sheets, diapers, toys, books, furniture, carseats, strollers, burp cloths. Many things that mattered immensely to our expanding family.
Newborn memories returned as I closed my eyes and paused in my scrubbing. Two weeks old, four weeks old, three months old. Carefully measuring the ounces in each bottle, then carefully warming it, eager to calm to the cries of a hungry baby…our baby. Up at midnight and 3am, quietly feeding and rocking in the still darkness of his nursery, singing sweet songs, gently patting his tiny little tush, wanting to hug him close but also wanting to ensure he drifted off to sleep so that we could sleep. Midnight feedings disappearing; early morning feedings disappearing. Soon we’re on a very regular, normal, almost adult-like schedule. No more midnight snuggles. How we treasured the unbroken sleep then, and how I yearn for just one more snuggle, one more hug, one more precious, quiet moment now.
Quickly the newborn, young baby, half-birthday baby, almost crawling baby, almost walking baby days have passed. Quickly we have outgrown clothes and diapers and baby tubs and swings and bouncers and sleeping on mom’s chest while she watches “Sex and the City” reruns on TV. We’re a big boy now. Walking, talking, running, laughing, playing in the water hose, feeding ourselves…we are growing up.
Silent tears run down my cheeks as I smile in this bittersweet moment of parenthood. I am proud, so proud that my smile cannot be contained, of my very big boy. And I am nostalgic for those early days, those “it’s you and me, kid, we’re on maternity leave!” days with my baby, my first baby, because we grew up together. We are still growing up together.
The number of times I’ve heard, “Time just passes in the blink of an eye!” is innumerable. Standing there, washing just the three bottles of the day, I understood the passage of time at a very deep, maternal, gut wrenching level. Soon my baby will be graduating kindergarten, starting junior high school, going to prom, getting married, making us grandparents.
The moments that bring to focus the actual passage of time will absolutely break your heart, but in the most overwhelmingly joyful way. We will cry many, many tears over the next many, many decades. And while we will have more bottles to wash in the future, they will never again be those first bottles, as that chapter is nearing its end.
Oh time, please slow down…or at least put together a really great photo album for me to cry happy tears into as I curl up in my recliner in the twilight hours, reminiscing about these beautiful, incredibly, blessed golden days.