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The Bittersweet Business of Children Growing Up

You can’t have it both ways. You can’t have the indescribable snuggle of a newborn baby while getting to enjoy the antics of a toddler.

Kate slept for six hours straight last night.  An hour before she woke up, I woke up, wondering when my middle of the night wake-up call would happen.  I eventually fell back asleep and was astonished at how human I felt after getting six straight (nearly) hours of sleep.  That’s more sleep than I get on a typical night before heading to work on the morning show.

As I sat there feeding the very well rested yet still groggy Kate, the moment struck me as very bittersweet.  On one hand, I was celebrating so many consecutive hours of sleep, at night, for both her and me.  On the other, I was realizing that the time would be coming all too soon where she would not need me to get through the night--that her little tummy would be big enough to stay full until the morning.  I realized I would soon be packing away boxes of clothes that bear the tag that say “newborn,” and she would quickly start breezing through the next size up, then the next, then the next and so on.

And I started to cry.  It’s a bittersweet business--raising children.  Because you can’t have it both ways.  You can’t have the indescribable snuggle of a newborn baby while laughing at the antics of a toddler or taking a teenager shopping or preparing a grown woman for her wedding day.  We get live in the moment we have, and that’s it.  What once was becomes memories, and what is yet to be remains a dream.

I must have realized very early on that growing up is a bittersweet business.  One of my family’s favorite stories is from my fourth birthday.  My older brother, who loved and lived to tease me, said, “Heather, you’ll never be three again.”  I burst into tears.

When I watch Lauren hug her baby sister, eyes shut tight like there’s nothing more important in the world she needs to do at that moment, it boggles my mind how big Lauren is compared to Kate.  It was not long ago Lauren was just that little.  And now she’s knocking on the door of turning three years old.  I’ll have to remember not to tell her on her birthday that she’ll never be two again.

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