Someone forgot to inform my baby that she is not allowed to grow up. She is not allowed to lose the pudge in her cheeks that defy gravity, or the the gap between her front teeth that can currently house a Mack Truck (sorry kiddo, you got that from me - but you rock it WAY better than I ever did), and she is definitely not allowed to lose the little tuft of hair at the top of her head that refuses to ever lay flat. Not allowed.
I want to remember it all so badly. I want to remember the gurgling laughter that gives her the hiccups, the way she can only crawl backwards, or how she still can't sit up for very long because she has to see what's going on around her in all 360 degrees simultaneously.
But I think I'm already forgetting. After two children and almost four years of night wakings, my brain has turned into an applesauce-like consistency of mush. I can feel it sloshing around up there, feebly trying to hold onto her last remnants of infanthood as I stand by and watch it all unfold around us. Like an enraptured audience member at the greatest show in the universe, I witness her change and grow - and I just want to hold on to the baby smells and dreamy murmurs and everything else that she is in this very moment. Just for a little while longer.
I don't know why mothers aren't allowed the luxury of living in the moment. Why do we always have to look forward or backward with excitement or anxiety or guilt or regret or sadness or the sense that time is running away with everything that we love the most? Slow down, time - just wait for me to catch up because I'm not ready for you to change this tiny little ball of baby into whatever comes next.
Still, there are some things that haven't changed - even from the very beginning. The way she lights up when her big sister enters the room. The way she reaches out for her blankie and mooshes her face into it like she's making out with her long-lost baby lovey. The way she loves her daddy. The way she needs her mama. The way she needs to hold somebody's hand to fall asleep, or kick my head at least once during the night to warn me that she's about to wake up (she's very considerate that way).
I feel like motherhood the second time around has changed me, it's made me worry less and laugh more, but it's also made me feel a bit more wistful. Because I know how brief and lovely this time is - like a memory that I've already begun to forget. And I'm not ready to forget. Not quite yet.
Happy nine month birthday, my sweetest littlest love. Please don't ever change.