Without a doubt, my favorite time is my morning feeding with Johnny. I love cuddling up with him on the couch, watching his sleepy eyes drift in and out of wakefulness, occasionally checking to see if I am still there or if it just a dream. I love hearing him gulp his first half of the bottle and then settle into a slow, steady feed, while also keeping half an ear attentively listening for the girls to wake up in their room. I love feeling his hands search for mine, reaching out and waving until they find what they are looking for, grasping my fingers until the doze catches further hold on him and he slackens his muscles, drifting off to sleep. Sometimes I troll the Internet on my phone, sometimes I look intently on my son, other times I drift in and out of slumber myself, 110% comfortable with where I am in that very moment.
Today was an especially wonderful morning as I listened to the thunderstorm and rain pass through, reclining on the couch with my sweet boy who completely passed out as his bottle was done. As I drifted in and out of sleep, I tried to treasure each detail of him in my arms. Already I forget what that was like with the girls. I could look back at pictures of them and take more pictures of Johnny, but will I remember what it feels like. Will I remember his length in my arms, with his legs always curled up in a 90 degree angle and his bum pressed firmly into the crook of my arm, resting against the arm of the couch? Will I remember his exact weight, getting heavier by the day, but still so lovable and willing to melt into me? Will I remember the way his little hands twitched as he falls asleep, mimicking the small smiles that are fleeting glimpses of his gummy smile he gives when fully awake? Will I remember brushing my fingers along his rolls, especially the ones on his thighs and at his wrists, that super soft baby skin that is padded by the fat underneath? Will I remember those sighs of contentment, the ones that get caught up in his breath that are duplicated by my own heart stopping when I realize just how much I love him?
I want to yell "Slow down! It's going by too fast. I am enjoying it too much to watch it go, let it linger!"
But this afternoon, he reminded me of the purpose of being a parent. I have been working diligently with him in conjunction with his therapist on certain milestones. We have been working a lot on sitting and rolling over. Never before has he done these things on his own, but I held my breath several times over the past month as he made progress towards rolling over. I knew as soon as he started picking up his feet and throwing them to each side that it would only be a matter of time. So I kept working, grabbing a foot and pulling him over, training those muscles and building muscle memory to roll all the way. I thought he would be sitting before he actually rolled over, rolling over means wanting change and he is so content to just be. I wanted this milestone though. It was time, we are in the spectrum for this milestone to be reached. But I wasn't expecting it. Getting ready to run some errands this evening, I put Johnny on his play mat and left the room for several minutes. I walked back into the living room to find him happily playing on his tummy. I stood, quietly thinking, trying to remember if I put him on his tummy or his back. I knew I had put him on his back. I asked MacKenzie if she had pulled him over and she said no. So we rolled him back over and waited. My heart pounded, hoping for him to repeat his new trick. He slowly lifted his legs, threw them to his right side, arched his back to follow, and rolled onto his tummy.
I cannot tell you how exciting this is to us. I cheered like I have never cheered for a milestone before. I teared up, so glad for his progress. I can't believe this moment is here and it means so much. It means that the work and the goal was worth it, it means that we are moving in the direction that we deemed to be important, and it means that for now (and this very well could change, but for now) he is progressing at a normal rate. He rolled twice more, one time on each side, really starting to figure things out.
And this is what Johnny reminded me of. That while Moms and Dads get sad for what they may not be able to remember, that our job is to help our children grow and to change. That our mission is to nurture them into what they will become and those sweet moments are just a small part of that. That as much as we want to slow things down, they need to progress and at their own pace. That we are to guide them, lead them, teach them, help them, and sometimes, throw them out there to see what happens. As much as I want all of those moments with my children back, as much as I want a pause button, getting to these milestones are so sweet too. Such is life, you move forward, you loose some moments, but you gain others. This victory was small for our family, but I cannot tell you how sweet this was.
I am hoping for a bit more time with cuddling my son, but the milestones we will help him reach are stretched out endlessly before us. And one day I won't even be there for the milestones. One day he and his teachers will tell me what was accomplished that day. And one day he will call us with excitement about the new things he has done. And there may even be a day that a new milestone is mentioned is passing, as he is an adult and less willing or more forgetful in telling us about his wonderful life. In the meantime, I will cheer for each one, cherish each one, and pray for his progress to come.