Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Celebrating Lasts

I'm a blubbering idiot this morning, so bear with me. :)

A few weeks ago, a fellow mama recommended this book to me:

"Let Me Hold You Longer" by Karen Kingsbury

Ever since I first read the words of this book I've been seeing childhood, and life in general, in a completely different way, and I knew that eventually I would have to share this with all of you...it's just too good not to. :) Aside from the Bible, no other book has ever touched me or left an impact on my life more than this beautifully written children's book. 

Author Karen Kingsbury discovered one day something that many parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and friends eventually discover along the journey of raising children...that nothing lasts forever. One day as her young son jumped into her arms and said "I love you!" she felt the weight of his growing body and she realized that soon he would no longer be able to jump into her arms in that way that she loved so much. And then she looked at her older son just entering Middle School and thought, "If I had known when he jumped into my arms for the last time, would I have held on a little longer?"

Of course that thought sent me into a tailspin! We spend so much time in this life celebrating "firsts." They are easy to spot, because we are looking for them...waiting for them...poised and ready to capture them in photos. First smile, first time crawling or walking, the first time they bat a ball or go to school. We clap and cheer for all of life's little firsts. But life is equally full of "lasts." And often we miss them, because they sneak up on us. We don't always know when something is going to happen for the very last time. But if we did - if we became more keenly aware of lasts - would we hold on to the moment just a little longer?

"Evie's Last Stand" Haha. Right before she learned to walk.

I remember becoming a mom for the first time and practically wishing Evelyn's babyhood away. I loved each and every new milestone that she hit, and I couldn't wait for the next one. It was fun and exciting to watch my baby grow. But of course, it all passed so quickly. I missed a lot of "lasts" that first year. 

Evie's very last toothless smile caught in a picture. Her teeth popped through the next day!

Looking back, I think about the struggles we had with our first newborn. Evelyn would get terrible reflux sometimes at night, and all we could do was hold her and rock our crying baby until it passed. Those nights were long and stressful...but eventually they ended. There was a night, and I couldn't have known which one, that my baby would need me to rock her to sleep for the very last time. I know that if I had been aware of this last that I would have given her extra kisses, sung one more song, held on for just a little longer. 

Grace's last moments in the hospital.

When Gracie was born I knew that I wanted to slow down my way of thinking. I tried my best to savor each moment and every stage, instead of waiting anxiously for the next one to come. From the very first time I held her on my chest in the hospital I remember thinking, "Remember this. Hold onto this moment for as long as you can." I was a lot more emotional the second time around, knowing what was in store for me with this beautiful little baby. 

Just before walking!!

I think in the back of my mind I was hoping that if I could slow down my point of view that time would seem to pass a little slower as well. Of course that didn't happen. :) Even at only a year old Gracie has already experienced so many lasts: Her last night sleeping beside me in a baby bassinet....her last gummy smile...her last days of scooting and crawling to get around.

Now that I am pregnant for the third, and possibly LAST time, my hope and wish is that I can really stop and smell the roses with this baby. And yes...with this pregnancy as well. As much as I feel miserable on days that I am sick and tired, I have reminded myself many times over the past few weeks that this could be my very last chance to feel sick with pregnancy. And to tell you the truth - that thinking is sometimes the only thing that gets me through the day. 

The wonderful thing about "Let Me Hold You Longer" is that it chronicles life events all the way from birth to leaving for college, so for a parent with young kids like me, it has made me aware to look for certain lasts that are yet to come - and there are many! From the last day of Kindergarten, to the last kicked soccer goal, to the last school dance. I hope that I will always remember to appreciate not only life's firsts, but all of those lasts as well.

This book has touched me so deeply with its message that I want as many people to enjoy it as possible. I have officially found my new "go-to" baby shower book! I will definitely be donating a copy to our church library, and I would love to send a copy to one of you as well. Just leave a comment below and on Friday I'll draw one random name for a "Let Me Hold You Longer" storybook. 

And of course, it's not just children who experience firsts and lasts. As adults, they are still happening to us all the time. I hope that all of my dear friends will remember to savor those moments in their own lives as well. Have a great day!


Sarah said...

Adrien Robert. Even though I know this all to well & am very aware of this tender subject...you still have me blubbering like a baby.

I feel as though I have slowed down A LOT & soaked in every little moment as a Mom but a little reminder here & there keeps me on track. Thank you for that :)

I can't wait to get my hands on that book!!

Ashley Mitchell said...

Thanks for this. (even if it does have me sobbing like a baby at work) It is so true how we wait and wait for each new thing our babies learn and don't pay attention to their "lasts"

Sara Phegley said...

What a sweet book! Wonderful post as always!!

Melissa W. said...

You rock, Adrien!

I know exactly what you are saying...I'm hoping I haven't already been pregnant for the last time, because Little Vadyn's life is going by so quickly, even faster than GT's babyhood...

I just reserved the book at my library! Can't wait to read it!! : )

Heather said...

Sweet post!!! She is a VERY good author and has quite a few books that I have read that are adult fiction. Check them out.

PS...I'm sending you an email in about 30 seconds...check it!

Melissa Cheek said...

Sometimes the firsts are hard enough to handle, knowing they are growing up so quickly, it's hard to think of all the lasts. Looks like a great book!

Courtney B said...

Oh my gooooodness. That is the most precious picture of her rolly legs in that swim suit :)
What a precious book. I will definitely be buying that and reading it before we have kids!

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more. I am pregnant with number 5, so I have to always remind myself to not focus so much on the littlest one, but on the big ones who are growing so fast. Good luck with your pregnancy. I am due around August 7.



Stefanie said...

Ever since Lucy came into our lives I have felt like it is all flying by too quickly. Last week I turned in my resignation from work so I can be in her life more. I am grateful that I won't be missing several nights a week, days and weekends with her. I am excited to start exploring the world with her and seeing it through her eyes! She has gotten way too big way too fast and I don't want to miss another minute of it!

Meagan said...

I have been thinking about this A LOT lately. Just the other day Carson actually let me rock him to sleep & I took advantage of that time, soaking it all in because I know that it won't be long before I won't be able to do it anymore. I am in no hurry for all of the firsts that my boys are going to have! Time definitely flies by way too fast when you have kids.

I wanted to cry the other week when Keegan said he didn't need his stool anymore to brush his teeth & when he made his own sandwich for lunch. I'm going to be a mess when he goes to pre-k next year!

Anonymous said...

I'm not expecting but this book sounds amazing. It reminds me of the book Love You Forever but another topic in general. Thanks for sharing how the book impacted you!
April R

Alanna said...

Aww, this made me tear up as well! I was just thinking about that the other night when I was putting my baby to bed and he actually fell asleep on my shoulder and he hardly ever does that anymore. I couldn't help but spend extra time rocking him :)

Erin said...

Been thinking about this a lot lately. I need to read this book!!

Emily said...

I missed getting Clara's last gummy smile in a picture!! :(

This sounds like a great book, thanks for letting us know about it!!

The Pettijohn's said...

I would love to have this book.

Megan Laurent said...

Sounds like a great book! It's hard to believe how fast our little ones grow up! Good luck with your pregnancy!


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