‘First they crawl, then walk. You delight in the progress. And then, for the first time, he calls you, ‘Mama.’: Mom says ‘the growing up is so very beautiful and heartbreakingly painful’

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“There’s something precious about a newborn baby.

The first moment you see her. The overwhelming joy of creation. The intensity so shattering, your only release is tears. You can feel the magnitude of life with the first breath, the first cry. Your baby.

His tiny fingers and tiny toes. His soft cheeks and softer head. Tightly swaddled in a soft cotton blanket, his eyes pinched closed.

Breathing gently, so vulnerable, and yet so aware because she knows the second you put her down or try to do something other than hold her.

Rocking him in the nursery in the middle of the night, your hearts beating as one.

The sound of her sleeping so quiet and peaceful; little sleepy baby sounds.

Watching him grow, discovering the sound of laughter.

Firsts come at you. First time crawling, first time standing, first time walking, first time sleeping through the night.

You celebrate. You delight in the progress.

And then… the first time he calls you ‘Mama.’

All the other firsts eclipsed as you hear that sweet word which you know, without a doubt, he knows exactly what it means.

They first come at you faster and faster until you realize the baby became a toddler. And the toddler became a little girl.

And then you realize it’s gone, and you can’t go back. You see a friend’s baby and can barely remember when your children were that small.

Your baby is no longer a baby.

You can only go forward.

So, you do, with just a little more patience. Because you know when you blink this moment will be behind you too.

And when it’s your last baby, the bittersweet joy of the ‘firsts’ is almost too much to bear. They are still triumphs, but you realize the firsts are the lasts…the last baby clothes, the last nursery, the last preschooler, the last little girl.

You catch yourself saving his tiny socks and his drawing of his family.

You watch her sleep.

You watch him play.

You realize while you were watching, he’s transformed into a big boy.

‘It happened in the blink of an eye,’ you marvel, even though you know that wasn’t the case. But in hindsight, that’s exactly how it feels.

You don’t always let go easily. Because growing up is so very beautiful but also heartbreakingly painful.

Your family is complete and so is your heart. Locked tightly in there are all those precious memories, like the first time he called you ‘Mama.’”

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Caroline Murray of The Other MomSubmit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

Read more from Caroline here:

‘Dear firstborn, I held you in the hospital and knew our lives had seismically shifted. I am so lucky God gave you to me.’: Mom pens touching letter to firstborn child

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