Lately when I look at my two year old my heart hurts. She’s turning 3 next month, and I am just wanting to cherish every last slipping-away second of her babyhood. I know it is a stretch to call a two year old a baby. But I’ve always done it with my little ones. It’s not til the third birthday that I force myself to realize they’re not babies anymore. I always have a terrible time with third birthdays. Why on earth does the time have to roar by like a freight train?

Yesterday afternoon I took most of the kids for a walk. I asked my two year old if she wanted to walk or ride in the stroller. She wanted to walk, but then 2/3 of the way through the walk she was getting tired and started to whine. I knelt down to give her a hug, and in a petulant mood, she turned away. But after a second she softened in my arms and wrapped her arms around my neck. We just sat there like that, hugging for the longest moment. I was motionless, soaking in the sunshine and the feel of her sweet baby arms around my neck and her body molded into mine. When she finally released me, I asked her if she wanted a piggy back ride. She surprised me by saying, “No, I hold your hand.” And so we walked on, hand in hand for a moment until she regained her energy and ran ahead, making me trot to stay close enough to keep her safe.

How could she be three when it seems just a few months ago that I brought her home from Ethiopia– 15 pounds and 6 months old, noodle-legged and unable to sit up? For that matter, how can it be 13 years since I last gave birth to a child, to my son who is now a handsome teenager taller than me? And my firstborn, my precious Eldest, off in the world doing her own thing? Yes, she comes home on the weekends, but much of her life these days is separate from my own. Wasn’t it just a couple years ago that I called my mom, frantically, ridiculously postpartum with her, begging mom to come watch the baby so I could get a shower? How can her whole childhood be gone already?

I am so proud of the wonderful people my children are, so eager to see what they’ll do in this world. And yet each step onward and upward also rips away at my heart, like barnacles torn off a boat. Why does it have to hurt so much to see them grow?

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  1. So true, so true. You capture those mommy feelings so perfectly & so eloquently. I had to call my baby to come sit in my lap for a moment. Incidentally, she will be five next month, but I’m Southern so I’ll always call her my baby.

  2. Oh Mary, I so understand. I read this and ran to cuddle my own youngest…who is 3 years old. Time goes by so very quickly. Too quickly for a mama’s heart.

  3. I completely undestand this and my oldest is only 4. I am having a really hard time with my baby boy growing up. He is 13 months now and I know I will never have another baby to hold and cradle. I am so excited to see who the 3 of them end up becoming though:)

  4. No, stop it! You must not remind me of the growing thing!


    I guess it has to hurt so much to balance out the insane joy that also bursts forth in our hearts to see them just become and be and do.

  5. I can relate to this this week, my kids are 24,20 and 18. Squeeze every precious moment you cana with your little ones! On the bright side, our eldest is expecting in April!

  6. Your ‘baby’ is gorgeous. Just stunning.

  7. My two-year-old is my “baby” too! I love watching them grow and hate it too just as much!!

    Two is an especially darling age, though. I love those hugs when they wanted to be independent and choose not to hug but then, because the promise of hugging you is too irresistible, they give in!!! So much for independence! 🙂

    Tiny squeazy hugs are my favorites!

  8. When my current baby turned two, I kissed his sleeping head and all was fine, but all of a sudden the fact hit me and I cried for almost an hour….it really is hard to accept!
    Your baby sure is precious.

  9. I’m typing through misty eyes. My youngest is almost 8, and I still have a tender spot in my heart for those “baby arms” that reached up to grab my neck.

    The time does fly, and your baby does look so grown up already. I’ll be praying for special memories to be etched into your heart between now and her dreaded third b-day.

    Such a touching post, Mary. : )

  10. I am there with you. It really is hard. Sometimes when I think of what my life will be like when they are all grown, it makes me panic inside. I just can’t imagine it. It is especially close to my heart today as my oldest became 13. It just astonishes me.

    And if it makes you feel any better, Mia was 3 in march and I still call her “the baby”. Those little ones will always be babies to us!

  11. Uncanny! On my drive to the airport today (to welcome home my friend and her new baby) I was listening to Mark Schultz’s CD. “Until I See You Again” brought tears to my eyes thinking about my eldest who will be setting off for the great blue yonder next fall. I don’t get sentimental very easily, but just that thought that we only have a few months left where are family is living together under the same roof was a bit much for me.

    btw, your little cutie patootie is gorgeous! Maybe I need a two year old around the house 😉 Don’t tell my husband I said that.

  12. sigh…I’m feeling much of this lately too. so sad that somehow, I blinked and missed it.

    And I am terrified I will blink again and miss the rest of it.

  13. My baby will turn 2 on Saturday. It has gone fast and he will definitely be my baby for another year. His latest is wanting to hold mom and dad’s hands while we eat dinner. Writing this makes me want to wake him and hold him. Lovely post and stunning daughter.

  14. {sniff, sniff} right there with ya… and mine are still babies… 4 and 2.

  15. te esperare en las noches en nuestra casa…comeremos en casa

  16. Beautifully written.

    My baby is three years old now, but she still feels like my baby, time flies way too fast!


  17. I know exactly what you mean. My baby is 18 months old and I have to keep on reminding myself to cherish this time because it will be gone soon.

  18. I feel the same way. I am determined that my almost two year old is still my baby – even if he does say no every time I ask him if he is.

    I read what someone said about this same subject, with the same sentiments… she said – that’s why she keeps having babies – so she doesn’t have to face the sadness of a baby-less life.


  19. beejayzgang says:

    I have been nursing this ache for some time now. I think it has to do with knowing this is our last baby, at least biologically, and how quickly my first one has become a little man. They are all just growing up too fast. Of course, we want to see them become all they were meant to be, but it is such a crazy mix of pride and sadness, joy and longing for their babyness and innocence. It occurred to me the other day, that maybe one reason I have two babes in Heaven waiting for me, is that God knows that I would love to have a baby forever. I don’t know what’s awaiting me in Heaven, but the thought that just maybe my babies will always be babies fills me with such a craving to hold them.

  20. You are such an inspiration to me. Thank you for reminding me that I need to cherish every second. I have three little ones (5,3,2) and there are some days that I think ….oh when they are a little older…..and sigh wistfully. Thanks for the reminder enjoy every age and stage.

  21. it makes you think alittle. If you are feeling this way about your own children could you imagine how your mom feels about you. I’m sure to her just yesterday you were running to her with a scraped knee that only she could make feel better and now you have ten kids of your own.
    When your little all you want to do is grow up, then when that happends all we want is for our kids to stay little.
    It’s an amazing gift we are given. The ability to grow a child, raise it up and watch what they become. It is a heartbreaking cycle but it is well worth it.

  22. You made me cry. And want to tell my son, who is 4, that he can’t grow up!

  23. Three? I say five is when it’s really all gone. At three they still have dimples in their hands, a little extra on the cheeks (both sets) and baby teeth. Plus they still have that sweet smell. The fifth birthday was always my most difficult.

    Although seeing that my baby is a boy, I have learned to love the sweaty little boy smell, too.

  24. My youngest turned 3 in April and I still call her “my baby”. And she’ll still let me rock her sometimes. And I softly try to milk that moment every second that I can. I find that it nourishes me emotionally and spiritually.

  25. Oh my goodness, I can relate! Mine are 3, 5 and 15 this year. The horror of the realization that I have a nearly-self-sufficient creature living in my house, who just yesterday was small and cuddly, isn’t something I was expecting. And I’m cherishing every small-armed hug that comes my way, because time flies by so quickly.

  26. Umm Skandar says:

    Oh Mary! I am right there with you. My youngest will be three in March. If I ask him “where’s mama’s baby?” His reply is “all gone!”

    Another priceless response recently was when I asked him “are you my baby?” and he responded in his still babyish voice, “no, I young man.”
    And my oldest almost 10. Wah!

    One of the reasons I am such a faithful reader is that we share such similar feelings of joy with our role as mother and parent (not that it doesn’t have it’s moments). I have learned that in real life and on the internet that despite differences of politics, religion, and a hundred other things, I can bond with almost anyone who loves being a mom.

    Thanks Mary

  27. Darn it Mary. You made me cry. My babies are getting too big too fast.

  28. You are so wise to know this, and to cherish the extra-long hug….

    One of the best things I ever read about how it is to raise children (especially if you have bunches of little ones) was this:
    “With children, the days are long…..but the years are short.”

    Thanks for your wonderful post.

  29. What a beautiful picture. She does look grown up. I feel it too, as my first just had her 8th birthday. It is so hard to believe that they just grown up so fast, and the time is gone.

  30. Gosh, she is SO beautiful. My baby is three, almost four and he really has been my baby in every single sense of the word so I completely understand where you are coming from.
    You made me very wistful thinking of my own guys, it just goes by WAY too fast, doesn’t it?
    Thank goodness for these blogs!!!!!

  31. awww she is so cute!!!

  32. My baby will be 4 in two days. I know how you feel!

  33. Bittersweet, I know! Boy, do I know!
    She is absolutely precious.

  34. She definitely is a cutie!

    Just wanted to let you know I’m hosting a giveaway – come check it out! Thanks!

  35. Multi-taskingmom says:

    Mary she’s beautiful! You capture so well a mother’s heart. Why does time have to fly so fast…well except when we are waiting for a referral then it seems to stand still.

    My baby will be 2 next month – he’s only been home 8 months…I love that he still wants a bottle and to be rocked to sleep at nap and bedtime. I love gazing at him when he sleeps, savoring these moments and wondering “who will you be someday”. Thankfully he loves to snuggle.

    On another note – my eldest, 28yrs old, called the other day to tell us he and his long time girlfriend had gotten engaged. Now how in the world did that happen – it was only a few years ago that I gave birth to him.

  36. and what a adorable picture too!

  37. There is something worse than a baby who grows up and flies the coop…one that grows up and refuses to fly! Talk about guilt! Did we not instill a work ethic? Did we not equip? Where did this fear come from? His side, or my side (definitely his)?

    Oh, waiting on the Lord is hard.

    I think the thrill of seeing them grow up to move on in His timing must give a parent a wonderful sense of accomplishment. I hope to feel it someday.

  38. Maybe that’s part of the way God designed it! It is hard to watch your child grow, be independent… That’s where faith and prayer comes in, at least for me…. Gotta have faith that you’re doing this parenting thing right so that they are “safe, happy, healthy, God loving”, but then prayer comes in for the parents hearts minds souls and ha! patience! Great post! Really enjoy reading your blog!

  39. Mary, I know you have rare opportunity to read my blog, but your sweet post reminded me of a conversation I had with my daughter this summer.

    We were on a trip to Yellowstone, and she commented that she’d like to go to school “out West” (we live in the SE). I said, “NO!” and she asked why. I replied that if she went to school there, she’d fall in love, get married and move there for GOOD! Her (heartbreaking to me) reply? “Mom, you always say you’re raising us for someone else, not yourself…” and never have my own words come back to sting so much.

    She’s an amazing 15 year old, but I would swear, she was born last week :/ :).

    Just in case you’re interested and have time:

  40. Since she didn’t come home until after she was a year old, I think she can be your baby for another year, don’t you? 🙂
    What a sweet picture, by the way

  41. I know how you feel about still thinking of an almost-three-year-old as a baby still. My youngest just turned three a couple of weeks ago and I still call her my baby. She doesn’t like that, though, and she tells me, “Mom, I not baby. I big girl!” She’s still my baby, though.

  42. I really relate, as my oldest just turned 14 last week, and my “baby” (yes, he’s still a baby!) will turn 2 on Oct. 31. It’s heartbreaking, yet there is something satisfying. 🙂 But mostly heartbreaking. 🙂

    Your daughter is beautiful!

  43. This post made me cry. My children are growing up far too swiftly.

    I am not ready.

  44. Oh Mary! Your baby is absolutely gorgeous. I could stare at that sweet little face for hours (but that would be kind of weird). I’m reminded often these days of how quickly my children are growing. I keep telling myself, it’s just a day at a time, but my how those days fly by into years. I still don’t know how that happens.

    Thanks for the little reminder and perspective.