This week we hit a major milestone in our family.
Actually, before I tell you about it, let me back it up a bit. Like about nine and a half years. Aimie was pregnant with Abigail, our first. I’m a hobbyist woodworker, and we had discussed the baby furniture, and we decided together that I would build our baby’s bedroom set. A daunting task to be sure.
But I did it. I built everything from scratch. I designed it with my wife. I made sure every dimension would be perfect so it was safe for the little person we were bringing into the world – getting baby’s head stuck between the crib slats seems to be frowned upon. I made sure the finish was safe for the little gaffer to chew on, as he or she undoubtedly would. I bought raw cherry lumber – an entire truckload of it – I jointed it and planed it – piece by piece. I made sure every single edge was routed to the perfect roundness so there wouldn’t be any sharp edges to get hurt on. And over the course of 4 months, in our garage and in our basement, often until well past midnight, I built a crib, a change table and a dresser with a glass-door hutch. Can I just add here that I think I did a pretty bang-up job with this stuff?
I really did build this stuff to last. Every piece weighs a ton, and I tried to make it as indestructible as I could. I made it with love. As a matter of fact, I had a small silver plaque made up. It reads “I loved you before I even knew you” and it’s stuck to the bottom of the dresser – still waiting to be discovered by one of my kids.
Where was I? Oh right – I really did build this stuff to last. And last it did. The crib, for all the repeated dismantlings and reassemblings through 4 moves, for all the relentless banging and kicking it endured through 3 kids, for all the chemical abuse it suffered from bodily fluids, spilled milk, and goodness knows what else – for all that, it remains intact today.
Well, it remained intact. Past tense.
This week, for the last time ever, we slowly and lovingly took our crib apart. It wasn’t without emotion that we lovingly placed it, piece by piece, against the wall to make room for Andon’s big boy bed.
Although it’s a fun step, and Andon (who is definitely our last child) has now joined his older sisters in the big-bed club, which he is very excited about, it made us a bit sad.
There have been plenty of times where Aimie and I will sit and chat about how one particular child is at one particular stage that we particularly love and would particularly like to keep them at. We’ve had plenty of these waypoints along the path of parenthood.
I remember a few of them very clearly…
When Abigail was at the age where she stopped being a complete bag when we went out to restaurants, and she was just a pleasant little girl following the horrifying twos (to call them the terrible twos is just simply an understatement of epic proportions) – that was one of those times where we said, can’t we just stop her from growing up any further? Let’s keep her right there. She’s so much fun!
Just a couple of weeks ago, Amalie became aware that her older sister was going away to a friend’s place for the day and then became even more aware of the looming opportunity to have mom and dad almost to herself – a terrific prospect for any middle child. She insisted on having a coffee date with us, and we were delighted. We asked her auntie to hang out with Andon, and we took her to Tim Hortons for a donut and a hot chocolate. And she spent an hour TALKING TO US. Our little 4 year-old daughter seemed so perfectly content and so perfectly happy and so perfectly perfect right then, that we both wished she would never grow up and that she would stay that little sweet thing forever.
And lately, we’ve found ourselves discussing Andon’s ever-quickening growth plan. If you’re a parent, you’ll probably agree that time flies once you have kids. You’ll probably even agree that time flies even faster, the more kids that you have. We’ve found that time is rushing by like never before since Andon arrived, and we feel as though we’ve barely had the chance to enjoy some of his developmental stages. Now that he’s talking up a storm – he gets that from his mother – and he’s able to clearly voice his concerns – he also gets that from his mother – he’s hilarious. He’s so cute when he lets us know EXACTLY what his sisters have done to him and why that’s a concern, or what happened at Oma and Opa’s house that day. And we’ve said to each other “If only we could keep him at this stage forever!”
Of course, that’s never an option. And as much as we, as parents, look forward to the next stage of a child’s development because there is always a certain part you’d like to leave behind – like saaaayyyyy diapers – it always stings to see your child has arrived at that formerly desirable stage and has left behind something endearing, something wonderful, something beautiful that you’ll never see or hear them do again.
It’s a strange dichotomy of something wonderfully new and something terribly sad – neither of which we can avoid.
And so, as time keeps ticking, we all head toward things yet undiscovered. None of us has the ability, nor the opportunity, to stop (or better yet, turn back) time. Not in your own adventures, not in your kids’ lives, not in anything.
Make the most of it, enjoy every second of it, and do it such that, when your time here is done, you can look back on it and smile, knowing you used every moment to enjoy the blessings you were given, to create memories, to leave the right kind of legacy behind and to make a difference.
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