My heart swells everytime I stare at your sweet, sleepy face.
I look at you now, the tender age of 3, when catching crickets and playing in mudholes consumes your days, and I wish for time to stand still.
I lie next to you in bed studying your tiny features. Daddy's nose and brown eyes, my rounded cheeks and small lips. You're a precious mix of us both, wrapped up with your sister's kind heart and large, toothy smile.
As I stare at you lovingly, my mind recapping our day, your daddy asks me what I'm going to do when you grow up and leave me. "He'll never leave me", I reply. "He'll live with us until he's 30, and he'll still let me kiss those sweet cheeks!" He chuckles and shakes his head, a knowing gesture that tells me that just as he did 25 years ago, you too will grow and leave the nest, eager to begin your life out from under my wing.
I know our time together day in and day out is fleeting. 18 will be here sooner than I'd like, and you'll be off to explore the world without me. The sadness seeping into my bones at the very thought tells me that the reality will be far more painful than I anticipate.
I'll long for your precious goodnight kisses and the way you say "Mommy" like it's the most beautiful name you've ever heard.
I'll long to smell the sweet scent of your watermelon shampoo, and the hint of lollipop on your breath after having your favorite treat.
I'll long for the sound of your uproarious laugher that fills the halls as you watch funny dog videos on YouTube.
I'll long to see you and your sister together at the kitchen table, coloring beautiful pictures for me to hang on our fridge.
I'll long to hold you close to my chest and sing lullabies into your precious ears as you gaze lovingly into my eyes, a sweet smirk painted on your face.
I'll long for these moments we share right now. These moments I'll treasure in the years to come.
You're it for me. My last baby.
One day I'll put you down and it will be forever.
One night I'll tuck you in with a kiss goodnight, and the next you'll walk up those stairs with a passing goodnight as you put yourself to bed.
One day, you'll call me "Mommy" one last time, and then I'll forever be immortilized as just "Mom".
One day I'll be an empty nester, desperate for the days when you and your sister needed me for everything.
I'm trying to stop and savor these lasts with you. They flew by so quickly the first time around...I wasn't prepared. This time, I want to be ready.
If your sister taught me anything, it's that time won't wait. You won't always cling to me this much. You won't always run straight to my arms when you need consoling. You won't always need me this much.
So forgive me tonight, my dear, if I squeeze you extra tight and smother you with kisses. I'm just preparing my heart for the years to come.