Every day, my twins, Stella and Noah, make more and more conversation. Noah will say something like, “I’m sitting on the potty backwards,” and even though he’s not actually doing anything on said potty, Julie and I will look at each other in amazement. How did he learn how to say that? We, of course, don’t have the answer. We have no idea.
Or Stella will pull out the most heart-warming version of “thank you” on record, and we wonder, is there anything in this world that’s possibly cuter than those two words emanating from the mouth of our adorable toddler.
Stella has been smiling more lately, and during music class a few days ago, she started rocking out with sticks and a drum. Noah can almost have a near-conversation, and when I come in the room and he says, “Oh, hi, Dada,” it’s all I can do not to burst (with laughter, with pride, with everything).
This morning, when I was changing Stella’s diaper, she stuck her hand inside the decorative blanket on the wall and asked, “Where did my hand go?” After I expressed my puzzlement at this perplexing query, she yanked it out and said, “There it is.” Earlier, Noah dropped something out of his crib, and he said, “Oh no, it fell.”
Yesterday, Stella asked Julie out of nowhere, “What’s the matter?” Before that, when I asked Noah if he wanted some pancakes, he said, “Um ……… yes,” like he was deep in thought and really contemplating the matter.
It’s all cute. It’s all wonderful.
It’s also a little heart-crushing. Because my kids are growing up. People say all the time, “Oh, they grow up so fast.” I haven’t felt that yet. It feels like Stella and Noah have been here for almost 2 1/2 years exactly. It’s been a life-changing, fantastic 2 1/2 years. It’s also been a long 2 1/2 years.
But I have made an effort to live in the moment as much as I can. That’s why I go in for second good-nights (and second kisses) most every evening. Yes, I let the kids watch a little too much Sesame Street probably (is five hours a day REALLY too much, though?), but I also feel very present in their lives, moving with them in real time. When the kids start going to school, maybe I’ll feel different. Maybe I’ll feel their youth slipping away too quickly.
But that’s the thing: they’re growing up. Maybe that should thrill me to no end, but it doesn’t. It makes me (a little bit) sad. I remember when the twins began rolling over and, then, began readying themselves to crawl. During that time span, I almost dreaded the moment they’d begin to crawl forward (or, in Stella’s case, backward). It was just another step in their lives, a step closer out the door, leaving behind old mom and dad to relive the memories of their children’s youth.
I imagine that it’s a normal feeling for a parent to experience, but it also feels a little selfish. I wasn’t rooting against my kids, but I wasn’t completely sad when they failed at their task.
And now, they talk. And tomorrow, they’ll talk some more and learn new words. And the next day, they’ll amaze us once again. At some point, Noah will catch a baseball and Stella won’t need my help getting into a swing. Until, one day, they’ll be just little kids having a conversation with us as they get set to graduate high school and get their first job and high-tail it out of here for the rest of their lives.
Julie and I are so proud of all the kids’ accomplishments. Noah has been rocking the hell out of some rather difficult puzzles, and Stella is doing forward rolls. They are such lovely toddlers with sweet personalities and staggering intelligence. I just wish time would slow down a little. Not because it’s going too fast. It’s just so that I can savor every accomplishment just a little more. So Julie and I can laugh just a little longer when Stella hands Noah a toy and he says matter-of-factly, “Thank you, Stella,” like he’s been saying it for years.
So we can hold them closer to our hearts before, through no fault of their own and as is to be expected, they eventually break them.