The word last has been bouncing around in my head a lot lately. I’m not sure if it’s because the topic of “the last child” has come up quite a few times recently in conversations with my friends (who are wrapping their heads around the idea that they are done having children) or because there’s so much uncertainty as to whether or not Darrell and I will be able to have another child (which would make Noah our last, at least biologically), but I find myself thinking about the potential of the “last-ness” of so many things lately. Especially things that pertain to Noah.
I think what really got me into my own head – which can be both a good thing and a bad thing – about last-ness is a photo I took of Noah last weekend when Darrell and I took him to a local marine museum, one of Noah’s favorite places because of his love of “his” sea otters and marine life generally (thank you, Finding Dory). As we were about to leave the museum, Noah suddenly wanted to climb up and sit on one of the wooden benches in front of the museum; he was so happy to be there that we decided that he and I would hang out on the bench together while Darrell went to get our car. As we waited for Dada, I snapped a couple of photos of Noah sitting on the bench. On the way home, I posted photos of our excursion; almost universally, comments about one particular photo (the one I decided to share here this month) revolved around how grown-up Noah looks. When I look at the picture, I don’t see the itty-bitty baby we brought home from the NICU; I don’t see a baby at all. I see a little boy.
Later that day, as Noah was winding down and we were going through his evening routine – which typically concludes with him laying on one of us on the couch as he drifts off to sleep – he climbed into my lap and held one of my hands tightly. This isn’t an unusual thing for him to do; it’s a fairly common (and much-loved by us) occurrence for him to stop whatever he’s doing, climb into one of our laps, and simply hold our hand. When he’s had his fill of snuggles and hand-holding (which sometimes happens nearly as quickly as it starts), he’s off and running again. As I looked at his hand in mine that particular night, though, I couldn’t help but think that one day, my baby-turned-little-boy may not want to climb into my lap and hold my hand as he falls asleep anymore. Someday – and I have no way of knowing when – that snuggle and held hand will be the last one. And that thought makes me a little sad, especially knowing that Noah’s last snuggle and held hand (among other things) may be the very last “last time” we ever have that experience.
As hard as it is to think about Noah’s lasts, the very idea of them has given me a deeper appreciation for the little things that make up daily life with him. If I look at the little moments – like climbing into my lap and holding my hand – through the “last time” lens, there’s a sense of wonder in things that might otherwise seem routine. After all, what if this snuggle and held hand at the end of the day is the last snuggle and held hand I ever get with him? There have been so many lasts that have already taken place in his life: The last time he took a bath in the baby tub, the last time he slept in the MamaRoo next to my side of the bed, the last time I carried him into our house in the infant carrier. Did I appreciate those moments as much as I might have if I had known they would be the last time they would happen? If I had been looking at them through the “last time” lens, would I have made sure that I breathed in everything about that moment? I’ll never know the answer to that question, of course, but perhaps in asking it I’ll be more conscientious about embracing all the wonderful little moments with him.