As parents, we make a big deal about all of the firsts. The first smile. First tooth. First word. First steps. First day at school. And so on. But in our excitement to move on to the next milestone, we don't always take the time to value the "lasts"...probably because often, we don't know when they're going to happen.
Barring any surprises, I've had my last pregnancy. The last time I'll feel a new life growing inside of me; the last time I'll hold a wailing newborn with tears in my own eyes and think, Hello, my little one...I've been waiting so long to meet you.
In a week, it will be the baby's birthday—the last time we have to count her age in months instead of years. In a month, it will be the last day of my last maternity leave.
One of these days will be the last time I nurse the baby, or the last time I rock her to sleep in that green rocking chair I've spent so many hours in. One day, my three-year-old will call me "mama" for the last time, moving on to "mommy" or "mom" instead.
Don't get me wrong, there are some "lasts" that I won't miss. The last cluster feed, for example...spending hours camped out with a baby attached to my breast. Or the last diaper change, whenever we finally get there.
But each age and stage has its unique and fleeting joys and challenges. And I think we need to cherish—and mourn—all of the "lasts" before we can truly move on.
So I'll pack up the swaddling blankets, the nursing pillows and the newborn toys for our next garage sale—but not without a pang of regret.
Thank goodness there are so many firsts to look forward to.