I was talking to a friend a few months ago, describing our baby Cannon's first few months of life. For me, his short little existence has been so eerily similar to our first born - it's hard not to constantly compare the two. Elias was born on January 31st and Cannon on January 28th. I weighed almost the same before and after having both of them. They look alike. Their temperaments are similar and in general, they remind me so much of each other.
I was telling my friend that this fourth and final baby has felt redemptive in so many ways because I'm not the mom I was then. I'm not better or worse, but I'm so much more settled and aware. I want Cannon with me constantly and you'll have to ask me to hold him. I spend so many moments of my day lost in thought, snuggled up to his face. And he's not my favorite, of course, but something about him has thawed a sweet part of my heart and I can love the other kiddos more wide open too.
My friend remarked that this was special, that the Lord would make Elias and Cannon so similar, since your first child is the one you typically rush through. You can't wait for them to grow, for you to grow, for all of you to see what is next and what settled feels like. And it's not bad but it feels incredibly unavoidable, the rushing that comes with new motherhood.
Those first few weeks of Cannon's life, I felt the exact opposite. I had panic and anxiety about leaving the hospital because it felt like time was going too quickly. His one week, two week, three week old birthday all felt like the ticking of a time bomb that would go off and steal my baby. My little, last, fourth baby. I would find myself emotional for no reason and when I worked it through in my head, the only thing that would calm me down would be to reassure myself - he's not going anywhere, Lord willing. He's going to get older and that's ok, he'll still be here. He's not going anywhere.
And time has passed and I'm ok. It helps that he is a little runt of a thing, coming in below the 5th percentile in weight and still fitting sweetly in the crook of my arm. When he grows and changes, I don't panic as much - I just praise the Lord for him and soak him up and rest my face against his cool little cheeks and watch the other kids and try to soak them up too. The sweet tangled frizz glowing around Glory's hair. Benjamin's oh-so-typical whiny kid voice that says the sweetest and wackiest things. The way Elias puts a hand on my shoulder and asks me, "How you, Mom?" about six times a day. I soak them up.
On the opposite end of the rushing is the older women who tell you that it's going to fly by and you're going to miss it and wish it all back. And I hope it is not ignorant or prideful of me to say, I'd like to reject that passing statement. As much as I don't want to rush through their childhood, I don't want to pine for it one day. I want to soak up these days, live them to their fullest, and embrace each coming season. I want to have lived so full and loved so hard that I don't regret my child aging one single day. I want to remember the tiny moments and squeeze every last treasured ounce from it, so that when I look back the sweet clouds out the bitter and I'm able to look ahead to whatever the Lord has next, knowing He wants good for me all the days of my life.
It's a choice, you know?
Let's make it together.
Not to rush or to complain or to wish for the next season.
But to soak it up, wring it out, and hope expectantly for the Lord to use us to the fullest in this one - and the next.
** All photos are by Hannah Arnold of Visions Photography **