Chloe took her first steps when she was 13 months old in Arizona. We lived on an old military base that served as student housing and she was a little afraid of walking, although she thought she was pretty amazing to stand by herself. We finally got her a little push toy, and she pushed that thing all over the house for weeks before she realized she was actually walking. When she finally walked without the toy, she could already walk all the way across the room without falling.
Sophia's first steps were taken from the doorway to our bedroom in Cedar City. She was ten months old and was the type of baby who couldn't wait to walk. She pulled up to the door frame and took three triumphant steps before falling and was so proud of herself that she nearly split her face in half with her grin. Then she immediately got up and did it again. And again. And again. Which is why we have her almost first steps on video.
I remember lots of other firsts about my children with extreme clarity. The first time they each rolled over. Their first words. The first time I fed them solids. Their first days of preschool and Kindergarten. The first night they slept in a "big" bed. Their first lost teeth. Lots of wonderful little milestones that we wait for as parents. We wait for them and then we cheer our children on and file the moment away in our memories.
But what about lasts? As Bria inches further and further away from being a little child (she'll be TEN in just a couple of months), I start to realize that I don't remember the last time I ever carried her to bed because she had fallen asleep elsewhere. I haven't been able to lift her for some time now and the fact that I don't remember the last time I did makes me a little sad. I don't remember the last time she needed (or wanted) my help washing her hair. I don't remember the last time she made a cute mistake in a grammar construct. I don't remember the last time she needed help sounding out a word. I don't even remember the last time she came to me to kiss an owie all better. She's much too old for that now, and the last time I did kiss an owie for her, I didn't know it was something I should file away in my memory bank because I would probably never do it again.
Chloe and Sophia haven't quite made it that far. I can still carry them upstairs when they're sleeping. I still help them bathe. They still say grammatically funny things and need help reading. And they still need me to kiss them better when they've hurt themselves. But they've had lasts, too. Lasts I don't really remember.
I don't like lasts.
It means my children are growing up, and while that's a good thing, I've always had a hard time with each birthday. Maybe it's a little bit of mother guilt--wondering if I cherished them enough, taught them enough, kissed them enough, loved them enough. And maybe it's just because I love them so much that I want to hold on to every moment. I don't know.
What I do know is that I want to be able to notice the last time I carry Chloe upstairs or give Sophia a bath. But I also know that I probably won't. I'll carry Chloe to bed one night and the next night I won't. And then she'll have grown too big for me to lift. I'll wash Sophia's hair one day, and then she'll want to do it herself and she'll do a good job. And then, pretty soon, she won't even let me in the bathroom anymore.
And then they'll be all grown up.
All grown up with new milestones for me to watch for. New firsts to categorize in the list I keep in my memory. And I will be happy for them.
But I will always miss the lasts.