There is something so sweet and wonderful about babies. Those first gummy smiles, the way they fall asleep on your shoulder, those teeny little feet- there is a lot to love about babies. I remember when Charlotte was born- I immediately fell in love with her, and I was keenly aware of how fast the time would go by. I treasured that newborn baby stage in a lot of ways, because I knew with every passing day, every passing hour, she was growing and changing and she would never be that small again (except for the lack of sleep- I definitely did not treasure that and was over it by the time she was two days old). In the blink of an eye, she grew. By the time she was six weeks old, she had gone from being a tiny little six pound newborn to a hefty thirteen pound infant. Yes, that’s right, she doubled her birth weight by the time she was six weeks old. She would sleep for much longer stretches at night. She outgrew clothes faster than I could wash them. There were many moments when I wished that time would slow down or freeze so that I could enjoy her babyhood awhile longer. But time marched on, and now here she is, a happy, healthy, active four year old.
When Penelope was born, once again I prepared myself for the time to fly by. But things were different this time around. By six weeks old, she was not even close to doubling her birth weight. In fact, she didn’t double her birth weight until she was around eight months old. There were no long stretches of sleep. She was meeting milestones at first, and then just…stopped. It was like time HAD slowed down. At fourteen months old, she wears size 6-12 month clothes. Despite her chronological age, she is very much still an infant.
Some days I just feel stuck in babyland. I feel like Penelope will be a baby forever. And as much as I adore babies, the reality of time slowing down is nothing like the fantasy. No parent REALLY wants their child to remain a baby forever. You want them to grow and learn and walk and talk and do all the things they are supposed to do. Seeing your child do these things is like the payoff of parenthood.
I am learning to find my payoff in other things with Penelope. I am paying attention to the little things that she learns to do. Her learning to sit was a big moment that I will never forget (I have no idea when Charlotte started sitting up). Penelope has recently become a face-grabber. She loves to reach out and grab my cheeks or fishhook my mouth. She will do this, and she will have the biggest smile on her sweet face, and I don’t even care that she has scratched me or that her hand maybe tastes a little funny. That is my payoff, and I won’t let anything detract from my enjoyment of it.
And so whether or not Penelope stays a baby forever (and I’m sure she won’t but I know that it will continue to feel like that some days), I will love her and enjoy her and care for her. But if you are lucky enough to feel like your child is growing up too fast, well, try to remember that it’s actually a good thing. I still catch myself feeling like Charlotte is growing up too quickly. But I always remind myself, “This is what is supposed to happen.” And then I whip out my phone and take a bunch of pictures and video to capture the moment before it is gone.