A strange thing happened the day I came home from the hospital with my littlest girl.
Suddenly? My two year old wasn't a baby anymore. And I so wasn't ready.
Two months ago, 36 weeks pregnant, I took my big girl to Target to pick up some portraits. It had been a long no-nap day and I just needed to go, to get something done, to accomplish one task. And so, when she fell asleep in the car on the way there, I scooped her up and carried her into the store. Amazingly, she stayed asleep, and I walked around the entire store with 28 pounds of toddler draped over my shoulder, her feet hanging down over my very pregnant belly.
As I felt the weight of her settle into my body, my breathing slowed. My shoulders lowered. Several times, I paused just to press my lips to her head and smooth down her hair with both hands.
But here, next to her little sister, she looks impossibly big. She wants to hold the baby. She wants to help cook dinner. When did she start talking in articulate sentences?
I don't remember her newborn smell. I don't remember her feeling light in my arms, the weight of her draped over just one arm. I only remember the sharp, insistent sound of her infant cries as a story that I tell, not as the stabbing in my chest they once were.
Sometimes she crawls around or lies on the baby's playmat with her feet in the air, and my eyes fill with tears.
And I know that I love the girl she is now. She snuggles in my armpit on the couch, tells me she loves me, makes up songs about mommy and daddy and baby sister. She is a source of joy in my life like nothing I can describe.
But as I hold them both in my arms watching Sesame Street, I wish I could keep my big girl little, just a little bit longer.