She sighs when she snuggles next to me in the big bed, happy to be starting her morning tucked under my arm. She won’t be still for long, so I take advantage of the moment. I kiss her forehead, I pat her still round belly, I stroke the soft skin of her arms and legs, pleased to feel that the elbow dimple is still there. She hands me her stuffed monkey (“Baby Sister”) and demands I give the monkey her fair share of kisses too.

She is two now and is, for most of the day, a whirling dervish of energy. She talks in full sentences and bothers her brother and in turns winsome and feisty and charming and stubborn. She is still happy to be called the baby, but I know her babyness is slippery at best.

One of the paradoxes of parenting young children is the twin desires to want them to stay babies and the desire for them to grow up, to be a bit more independent, to not need our time and attention so completely. I want to soak up every minute of her as a baby. I know I will mourn the loss of her chubby legs and belly as she begins to stretch out and become long and lean like her brother. I want to memorize her little voice and the way she says “Whatcho doin Mama?” and “Baby Sister is cryin! She needs hold you”. But I also want to sleep past 6:30 on Saturday mornings and to see her learn to play on her own while I read on the couch.

It would be nice, I think, if we could slide back and forth in time. To see both the future and be able to go back and hold the baby of the past, rather than trying, in vain, to hold on to the wisps of on stage while time marches relentlessly forward.

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