My youngest daughter had her four-year-old checkup the other day. On our way there, she declared, “I love the doctor!” Probably because she was there so often with her older sisters when she wasn’t the patient. And that fish tank in the waiting area really was pretty cool.
But this time, she was the patient.
Things went well at first. My most social butterfly, she thoroughly enjoyed each “challenge” that came her way during her appointment:
Step on the sticker on the scale…
Heels against the wall and look straight ahead…
Don’t mind if I do!
We’re going to check something called your “blood pressure”. Your arm is going to feel a little hug with this…
Ooh, that makes me giggle!!
Can you stand on one foot?
YES! I can hop on it, too!! Watch this!! Now check out the other foot! Man, this is fun. Give me something I CAN’T do!!
Mom, am I done now? Time to get my sticker and then you’ll take me to get a donut??!
Almost… the nurse is going to come back in, and then you need a couple of pokes…
Her eyes flew open wide and locked on mine. For a second, I felt a bit like a traitor.
I’m getting SHOTS?!?! (I didn’t even know she knew that word.)
And that was the end of her fun.
She really was so brave, but not surprisingly, the poor thing immediately started crying as the first needle went in. It reminded me of her vaccinations as a baby. Smiling and cooing one moment. Screaming the next.
I remember holding her hands when she was tiny to keep her from grabbing at the needle, and lowering my face close to hers, whispering that it would be okay. My eyes would well up with tears every time she got shots. But it was always over as quickly as it started. A necessary evil to keep her safe and healthy.
This time wasn’t that different. The nurse still had me hold her hands. I still leaned over her and promised her that she would be okay. I still got a little teary. And like always, the moment was over in an instant.
But this time we were told that she wouldn’t need any more vaccinations until she was eleven. ELEVEN! That’s the age of my second daughter. I had taken that daughter to the doctor for her own well visit just a few days prior, and they measured her to be nearly 5’2”! So the next time my little peanut needs shots, she could be nearly as tall as I am?!
Call me strange, but the fact that we had just moved out of the “shot phase” of childhood really struck me. Can’t say I’m going to miss it – nope, not one bit – but it’s just… weird. Yet another reminder that the baby stage is behind me already.
So I scooped up my crying four-year-old at the doctor’s office that day. Her body still folds around mine perfectly. With her arms and legs wrapped around my neck and waist, I held her in that examining room for a little while longer than I needed to.
She had her head tucked up on my shoulder, and I rested my cheek on her hair. As I swayed us side to side, I rubbed her back with one hand – the other arm was needed to support her body weight. She’s getting heavier now. The scale had just told me so, but I knew it already. My baby was growing up so fast.
As I stood there, squeezing her tight and feeling her chest rise and fall more slowly as she settled down, I thought about how I wouldn’t be able to hold her like this for much longer. She will soon be too big, and eventually she won’t want to be held by her mommy anyhow.
But for now, I’m going to savor the feel of my little one in my arms – even if we are standing in the middle of a doctor’s office.
I close my eyes and hold her just long enough for me to memorize it all in my head and make it count.
Mom, NOW can I get my sticker and a donut?
You sure can. Let’s go.
I kiss her forehead and set her down. That moment is already over. Someday it will be the last time I hold her like that.
I take her hand in mine, and off we go.
There’s a saying that goes like this:
Never before have you been this old, nor will you ever be this young again.
So don’t forget to hit the pause button occasionally. I am trying to do that a lot more myself these days. Maybe it’s because I’m 40 now – that has given me a new awareness of how fast time flies. Or maybe it’s because my oldest daughter is one year away from high school – it seems like we are running out of time to be a family like this – all six of us, at home, living together. It feels like a lot of pressure in a way – to make sure we fit everything in before they start leaving the nest, one by one.
But until that time comes, I’m going to try to soak up even the most ordinary moments when I can – not just the trips, birthdays, and milestones. I want to remember and appreciate my daily life as a mom with kids at home. So often, it feels like I am just getting through my days and running through my to-do list in a frenzy (aren’t we all?). But that’s part of this stage of life, too. Being a mom is no joke – it’s a messy, stressful business. Not one of us has it all figured out.
So the challenge is to find a way to breathe through all that chaos – to focus on what truly matters. It’s all but impossible some days, I know. But every so often, it’s important to stop and take it all in, whatever that is, in that very moment. Even when we’re standing under the fluorescent lights at the doctor’s office. There are things to appreciate all around us if we slow down and simply look.
Never before have you been this old, nor will you ever be this young again.
Life passes us by so quickly. Treasure even the most ordinary moments along the way.
And remember this:
Donuts make just about anything better. :)
You can find more posts about my experience as a mom here:
How Having One More Baby Has Changed Me as a Mother
I Can Feel It Happening – My Daughter is Slipping Away
Hello Preschool. Hello Mom Freedom!
10 Things to Think About Before Your Child Starts Kindergarten (That Have Nothing to Do With Academics)
If you’d like to keep up with me and my blog (I’d love that!), please follow along via Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, or you can sign up for my monthly newsletter in the footer of my site! :)
A special thanks to Kathy Wolfe Photography for this shot of my daughter and me!
Very well written!tfs
You are very wise to remember to pause in the middle of all the busy-ness. Hug them and tell them so much that you love them unconditionally. I am a mom of 3 boys (ages 23, 26, 27 currently).
Thank you for the note! It’s all but impossible some days – but I’m trying! :) Take care!
It’s so important to hang on to those small moments and keep them forever. One of the weirdest things I’ve ever had to think about was that one day we will put our kids down from holding or carrying them and never do it again. So hang tight onto them while you can! Pretty soon they will be all legs and arms and unable to carry (or want to be carried!) Thanks for sharing!
You have a way with words and I feel your pain as I read you holding your daughter realizing that she may only fit perfectly in your arms like that for only a little while longer. I too, just yesterday picked up my eight year old boy and have him wrap his long, lanky legs around me because I know that soon that this will be impossible to do, since he is towering over me already. Plus, he’ll won’t want to do it. But reading your story made my eyes welt up with tears because you explained these feelings so well. Feelings of wanting to hold on to them as little kids but knowing that this time will end. Than you for such a well written piece. I love your blog.
Thank you so much. Our kids are growing up so fast right before our eyes!
Nice read. It touches heart. And so very true.
So well said. We all need those reminders.You just blink and they age a year or two. Sigh. And now it’s time for a donut.
Ha! Always time for a donut… :)