Staring at the labor and delivery room ceiling, it felt like a tiny box of every emotion had been shoved in to my chest and was ticking away inside. I couldn’t see her but I knew the doctors had taken her off to the side and were doing something. Everything seemed silent. Too silent. The seconds clicked by with Justin’s hand on my forehead, both of us thinking the same thing. “Cry. Cry CeCe. Just cry.” Suddenly a mewing, startled, pissed off, baby cry broke through the room. It was only a few seconds but it felt like hours. At the sound of that cry an explosion happened inside me that was so overwhelming I thought I was in shock. It was a warm, hot-chocolate-poured-in-every-corner-of-my-body kind of love.
There are times I wish I could go back and have a second helping of those few seconds. A chance to know everything I know now, but feel it play out all over again. The anxious tension, the swell of emotion, the love and fear and joy all wrapped together. But there are no seconds of those seconds, there are only photographs.
A few months ago CeCe took a wild tumble off her bike. She got going a little too fast, her fear turned in to a reckless, wiggle wobble swerve down the sidewalk. We watched on, helpless to stop the inevitable fall. Her little legs and arms went one direction, her bike the other, and she landed like a starfish on hands and knees on the concrete. The cul-de-sac full of families went quiet. Seconds of silence as we all waited to see if she was hurt or about to jump up and say ‘I’m fine!’. Every parent knows this moment: when everything inside is screaming to run over but some stronger, quieter part of you knows that part of helping, is teaching her she can do it herself. The seconds pass slowly in a tortured inner tension. . . is she going to hop up? Is she going to cry? She cries out big heaving sobs. We scoop her up, give her kisses, and take her inside for a few bandaids. Something tells me when the problems get bigger, and I can’t fix it all with a bandaid I’m going to wish for seconds of these seconds.
We pull around the circle driveway in front of the hotel. “Do you know where we are, CeCe?” Seconds pass as confusion turns to surprise. Enough time for Justin and I to share a glance at each other with our own electrified enthusiasm. She struggles free of the car seat belt, pressing her face against the glass. “THE GREAT WOLF LODGE?!” She vibrates with frenzied hysteria, eyes wide open, a stuffed puppy dog under one arm. This is the “BEST DAY EVER!”. In our busy life, I need seconds of these seconds.
Even writing this, I find myself getting lost in the sadness of moments, seconds, that keep ticking away. I miss holding her in my lap like a little baby, bending down to hold her hand, and lingering hugs before she runs off to class. She’s getting too big for me to carry to bed, too smart to fall for my distractions, and too interested in her friends to think I’m fun to play with. Soon, way too soon, her memories will move outside the walls of our house and in to the big world beyond. I don’t really wish for her to stay little, I just want to know I’m not going to forget anything important.
Our moments are more precious because we know there aren’t going to be more of them. This it. This is all there is. There really are no seconds, of our seconds but there are photographs to help you keep them little, forever.