My dad came to visit today.
After Lupine left the room he looked at me with wide open eyes and said soberly, "She's so big."
And so is her brother.
The truth is, in one more breath they will be grown. Just like we were as our own parents stood watching just a generation ago.
And it felt like time to read these words once more.
This is a repost of a piece I originally shared in 2013.
Because yes. I feel it again today.
I expect the same is true for you now and then.
There are days when I ache with this truth.
I feel it in the marrow of my bones.
Clear into my soul.
Because I know.
These days are fleeting.
Nothing lasts forever.
Not the sleepless nights of a newborn nor the angst of a pre-teen.
Not the sweet milky smile of a baby nor the quick humor or this half-grown child.
Our life has become this pile of snapshots and in each photo I can see you growing up.
Sometimes it feels so fast I can scarcely breathe.
No, nothing lasts forever.
And so I look around and wonder where the time has gone.
It turns out that "this too shall pass," my motto on the hardest days, applies to everyday.
And suddenly I don't want to squander a moment.
Today is fleeting.
And I wonder when my son will be as tall as me.
And when my daughter will no longer curl in my lap and kiss my cheeks.
I wonder at how much longer my arms will be the welcome nest that my children flock to, encircling them as they sleep.
And when they will finally pull away.
And so tonight I will lay beside you until you are soundly dreaming, just in case I wake tomorrow to discover that you've grown up.
I will listen to your breathing and remember the days when you were small and sometimes it seemed so hard.
And I wonder why it seemed so hard.
In the darkness I promise myself to lead with my heart.
To lead with compassion.
I promise myself to stop wasting time speaking words I will regret.
I imagine this life with children grown, off to write their own stories and live their own adventures.
And while my mind delights in them finding their wings, my heart weeps at the suggestion.
And there is that ache again.
Perhaps that ache is love.
True, full, indescribable love. The kind that you didn't know existed until you had children of your own.
The kind you can't explain now because language is inadequate.
The kind of love you whisper into small, sleeping ears because you just need them to know what is unknowable.
This much love.
Yes. Maybe that ache is the feeling of a heart bursting from a fullness that is immeasurable.
And perhaps that ache will help us remember what really matters.
May it keep us kind.
May it keep us playful.
May it help us find the words and be the parents that we want to be.
Words like "I'm sorry," and "It hurts," and "I understand."
Words like "I love you," and "You are enough," and "I am here."
Words that heal us and connect us.
May it help us remember how it feels to be small.
I remember how it feels to be small.
May we live this life and guide these children with the goal of having nothing to regret.
Not one thing.
And may we remember always that when the sun sets on today our child will be one day older.
One day closer to grown.
And that tomorrow is another chance to start again.
Oh, yes. These days are fleeting.
So I will savor the taste of my child's spirit when it rises up.
I will skim it off and drink it deeply.
So that I never forget these fleeting days.
So that I never forget this perfectly ordinary day that will be dust and snapshots tomorrow.
Today I will hold you in my arms.
I will listen to your dreams.
I will take your hand and go wherever you wish to go.
While you still want to journey there together.
Because soon it will be time.
Time to open my arms and let you go.
As you find your wings and soar.
And I ache.
18 thoughts on “Fleeting”
This is one of my very, VERY favorite pieces of writing…..ever. Since you first shared this, I think of it and read it and love it often.
On this eve of my middle sweet little one’s fifth birthday, I’m moved to tears by these words. Thank you for these truths and for articulating what’s on my heart.
My daughter shared this. As I read it, it brought tears to my eyes. I remember when she was little and I loved her so much just like her brother who is 13 yrs older, so it was like starting over again.I have a 20 yr old grand daughter, 8 yr old grandson who are my sons kids. My daughter has a 7 yr old and a 1 month old, both girls. They grow up so fast.This piece is beautiful and oh so true.
I read this last year and it moved me, now re-reading it, I feel the tears again. I feel this so often, exactly what you are writing. And yet, I always need reminding to. I am printing this and hanging it in my apartment. To remember, always.
Thanks, Rachel, I will print out your beautiful words – it reads like a poem – and pin it up in the kitchen to remind myself when the hard hours come.
So beautiful, so true …
This made me cry…saving this to reread often. Thank you Rachel!
Thanks for sharing this. I have been feeling it too, lately – I’m not sure why, the season? The long nights up with sick kids. Anyway, I took a stab at getting to the bottom of it, the impermanence over here: http://blog.kidsclothesweek.com/2014/02/what-makes-me-sew-brienne/
It is certainly not as apt as your description but perhaps it will strike a chord.
Thank you Rachel. You validate my feelings every time you open up like this. Which, with no friends who are mamas, and no family that seems to understand me, you words are my salvation. Wish we lived a wee bit closer to Viroqua so we could shed these tears over coffee instead of my keyboard at work 🙂
Thank you, Kelly.
Happy birth-day to you both. Hugs.
Thank you Brenda.
Thanks, Karen. Blessings.
I remember how it feels to be a mama with no mama friends. I didnt know any mamas when Sage was born. It was lonely. Sending you a long-distance I get you hug tonight. x
Rachel, this is an amazingly beautiful post. It made me cry. At times I also seem to ache with the truth that the kids will grow up before I know it. It’s so bitter sweet.
I just wanted to tell you that you are such an inspiring person. Your children are so blessed to have a mama like you!
Re-reading this on my oldest son’s eighteenth birthday…..a tearful thank you to you for sharing.
As my little one teeters on the edge of 9, (9!) I read this with a lump in my throat and a promise to try, just a little harder, tomorrow. To love even more. To be even more gentle. To soften. To make cookies and eat the batter. Laughing. To make a mess and leave it to wander wherever he wants to go. Because it’s so very true how this time passes like the seasons and there is a celebration to be had in each one.