Where did the time go? Wasn’t it just yesterday when I took you to the park for the first time? I carefully placed you in the baby swing and gave you a gentle nudge. You soared through the air and smiled. Then you leaned back and let the sun shine on your face. What a joyful moment that was for both of us.
And last spring I watched with fear and trepidation as you climbed the stairs to the big-kid slide. I was worried you would fall down. I was worried you wouldn’t know what to do when you got to the top. I was worried you would get scared and I wouldn’t be able to get to you fast enough. But you knew just what to do. You slid down and squealed with glee. I was a nervous wreck, but so proud of you.
So recently I was teaching you not to pick up every single woodchip on the playground, picking you up and placing you at the top of stairs and ladders you couldn’t yet climb, and helping you get off the bottom of the slide without falling in the dirt.
We went to the park on Thursday. There were many other moms and many other kids all playing. Every single one of them was younger than you were. And they were all so little compared to your big girl self. I carried you over to the baby swing, but you really weren’t ready to swing. You asked me if you could go slide, so I got you out and you ran over to check out the other activities. You climbed an actual ladder carefully. I stood right behind you, ready to catch you at a moment’s notice. But you never slipped, never fell, never faltered. I doubt you even noticed my hands perched carefully right around your little body.
You got to the top and immediately proceeded to climb the stairs to the big kid slide. Again I felt the worry and fear creep back. What if you didn’t remember what to do? We hadn’t been to a park in many months. What if you forgot to sit down? But soon you were sliding down the slide, carefully bracing yourself with your own two hands so you could go as slow or as fast as you wanted. You wanted to go again and this time had to wait your turn as another Mom climbed the stairs with her little boy. He sat in her lap and then went down the slide. I stood on the ground and watched you from several feet below.
I didn’t have to direct you around to various other areas or pieces of equipment. You ran with joy to each new thing, me following closely behind...but very much behind and not in front of or beside you. Each time you spent about 30 seconds or less and then saw something else you wanted to explore.
I asked you if you would like to swing again, and you ran over to the baby swings. But they were all full of actual babies. I explained to you that you would have to wait your turn and you started to cry. I asked if you wanted to try a big kid swing, sure that you would not understand that concept at all. I lifted you up and showed you how to hold on tightly to the chain. Placing my hands carefully over yours, I gave you a gentle push, never letting go of your tightly gripped hands. You seemed to get it immediately. You figured out how to lean so that you wouldn’t fall backwards. You clung to the chains carefully, never loosening your grip. Soon I let go and let you swing slowly without me holding your hands on the chains. I let go. And there you were - all of a sudden a little girl and no longer my little baby girl. Swinging on a big kid swing at the playground.
Reagan, when did you grow up? When did you turn into this wonderful little girl who asks me to put her hair in a ponytail, who has very serious opinions about what to wear each day, who loves to take care of her babies every morning and who swings on a big kid swing at the park. I know, I know. It happened in the last two years. Two years that I remember and two years which I will always treasure. Two years full of moments of pure and wonderful joy.
Yes my wonderful little one, you are a treasure to me. Soon, there will be another little one in our home. Another little one beginning the journey of rolling over, crawling, sitting, standing, cruising and talking. I’m sure you’ll seem like an even bigger kid then. But oh how I have loved these days with just you and me. And I want you to know that I love watching you grow up. I love watching you learn. I love watching your personality emerge more and more everyday. And even though being your mommy is all about me learning to let go, I may physically let you go more and more, but my love for you is just the opposite - stronger, tighter, deeper every single day.
As we walked away from the playground, I held your little hand in mine and I knew there really was no better feeling on earth than to have you hold on to me. Thanks for being such a great kid. I’d rather be no one else in the world but your mommy.