I got to have coffee with a toddler this morning.
Well, I had coffee and she, a juice box. My fabulous new friend, Michelle and I talked for two hours while her daughter calmly went about the business of coloring and nibbling on a blueberry muffin.
“Does the time really go that quickly?” Michelle asked. And because I am the mother of three teenagers and a tween, I said yes. Yes, it goes quickly. I don’t know if it’s because I still believe I’m 29 or if the years just speed by with no concern for our ability to keep pace. I’m so far out of the baby stage, though, that pieces of it already elude me.
I have to think hard to recall that all-encompassing, breathtaking, breathe-it-in baby love, the Johnson’s Baby Powder smells, The Desitin under my fingernails, the late night feedings, the sleepless rocking chair moments when your heart is so full and your eyelids so heavy, you fear all your particles might collapse in on themselves with a mixture of joy and fatigue and overwhelm and gratitude.
The love I have for my children today is not the same as it was 17, 15, 13, and 11 years ago. It is no less, just different… perhaps, in some ways, even more than. I marvel at the young adults they’re becoming, at the spouses and parents they might someday choose to be, of their crazy-smart brains and their resilience in the face of setbacks. I cherish the moments when their teenage grunts morph into full-sentence conversations and hearty laughs. I watch with awe and pride as they successfully navigate their places within this world.
But today, I got the gift of remembering that special baby-ness. Those chubby, starfish hands and the ringlets that fall from high ponytails. The perfect porcelain skin. I watched with amusement as my little friend furrowed her brows with worry.
She was fascinated by the Christmas trees decorating the coffee shop, stopping to look at each one.
“Don’t touch, just look,” her Mama said. And my new little friend complied. But just once, the shiny temptation was too much, and she couldn’t help herself. She reached out, quickly, gently. Tiny fingers touching glitter.
That sweet girl who arrived on this planet just two short years ago was charming, well-mannered, beautiful, full of promise and possibility. She reminded me on the heels of so much sadness of all that is good and right with the world.
Today, I am so grateful for coffee and new friends and precious baby girls who sip juice from a box, careful all the while not to squeeze too tightly.