When I took Carter's two-month picture the other day, I was shocked at how much different he looked from his one month shot. I figured he would look different, but I guess I didn't expect how much different. He looked bigger, stronger, and more aware. And while I knew that he had definitely grown and has been looking around a lot for the last few weeks, seeing the pictures was still shocking to me. Sometimes he still seems so little, but when I compare him to what I recall of the tiny baby he was when he was born, it's obvious that he's so much bigger. I wish we could capture sensory feelings like we can take photographs, because I'd love to be able to know exactly how it felt holding a newborn Carter compared to the one we have now. I can think I remember, but with the seamless transition from one day to the next, it's so hard to know for sure when things started to change.
Of course, all of this made me panic a little bit that he's growing up so fast and before I know it he's not going to be my little baby anymore. I know we have a long way to go, really, but I do know that it is all going to fly by. It already is. And since Carter is probably my last one, every little step we leave behind is going to be gone for good. There's so much happy and sad tied into that--for example, being relieved that those first horrible days of healing from delivery and breastfeeding engorgement are gone, but sad that we'll never meet another child for the very first time. Part of me is so ready to leave so many of the baby things behind--I won't miss washing bottles or changing diapers--but there's definitely a sweetness and innocence that comes with a new baby that I've longed for since half of my interactions with Jacob became some sort of discipline/teachable moment/shouting match. I look forward to getting more sleep, but there's a certain charm to the night feedings (when you're not staring down a day of work, in particular) when it's just you cuddling your tiny baby.
The other day a co-worker and I somehow got on the topic of yard work. I mentioned that our old house had a ridiculous amount of trees that dumped leaves into our yard, and used the pictures I shared in this post as evidence. I love those pictures and obviously know very well what they look like, but seeing them for the first time in a while really struck me. Just look at Jacob. He was just over 16 months old at the time, just starting to walk regularly. He still only had a few teeth, and he was SO blond! It's him, of course, but he was such a different little boy compared to the 42-pound, very tall child that we see today. And it absolutely blows my mind that we've gone from that to this. In some cases it feels like the blink of an eye, but in others I know all of the blood, sweat, and tears we've put into the 3-1/2 years since so I'm well aware of how long the journey's been. But just seeing that face...man, it's amazing. Ironically, the picture of Jacob sleeping at the beginning of the post looks exactly like how he looks when he's sleeping now. I don't think that's just my mom mind saying that--I really think that with a little more hair and a little less pudge, his face looks identical now. Funny how that works.
All this to say that it's really struck me now how time passes and how precious each moment is. That's probably partly why it's been harder to be done with maternity leave this time around. I "get it" now--I understand how fleeting it all is. Now that we have another child, the experiences we've had with Jacob have given me great perspective on the adventure that lies ahead. I'm not saying I'll do it any better, but I definitely want to. I feel like with Jacob the tendency was to just take things as they came. It was hard to picture the future, aside from hoping for a time without sleepless nights or battles over dinner. But it seems like we had no way of imagining what it would really be like. But now that we've seen how Jacob has grown and changed over the years, it makes me excited to see Carter do the same thing. While Jacob's future is still something we can barely conceive of, after having gone through the baby stages with him, it gives me a better idea of the good and bad we can anticipate for Carter. It gets me excited to do the good stuff again, and at least attempt to maneuver through the bad stuff better than we did last time. Now that we know how a baby can grow into a kid with a personality, it's exciting to see where that goes. Now that we see how much different Jacob looks now than when he was Carter's age, it's exciting to see how Carter will grow and change. I look forward to when they're older and can interact, but I think I'm a little more cautious this time to not wish my way through this stage because it goes so fast and is extra special.
Admittedly, this week has given me pause because of all the tragedies that have taken place. Between the Boston Marathon bombing and the fertilizer factory explosion in Texas, it's clearer than ever how things can change in an instant. My car accident in November was a good reminder, and the Newtown shootings in December certainly drove the point home, but these events just emphasized it even more. It's scary that something as simple as driving to work, sending your kid to school, going to a sporting event, or just sitting in your living room can turn into something life-changing in an instant. I'm practically paralyzed in fear and sadness if I ever let myself think deeply enough about what it would be like to be in the shoes of any of the people impacted by any of these tragedies. One second you're living a normal life, and the next it's anything but. With that in mind it makes me feel so blessed for the good life we have, and I pray we never have one of those life-changing moments where it all falls to pieces. I know that if it happens we'll just have to put our trust in God, but you only get one life and it would really stink to have one event ruin everything. In light of these events, however, I will sure hold my kids a little tighter and savor every moment I can with them. These moments of babyhood and childhood are fleeting enough, let alone having something cut them shorter.
Anyway, I've just been extra conscious lately of how quickly time flies and how special this time is. Despite the challenges, it's worth every second to see my boys grow up and become real people. I love them so much and feel so lucky to be their mom.