“You’ll Miss This,” Christmas Edition

As I watched the NYC Rockefeller tree lighting earlier tonight, my mind wandered as Gwen Stefani performed. [Aside: Can we all agree, she is amazing? How does she look better now than when I was singing “Don’t Speak” in middle school? Her style isn’t mine, but I completely admire, respect and love how HER it is.] As I took in the beautiful set with all the holiday trimmings, something about the whole thing took me to Billy Mack’s performance in Love Actually. Do you know the one I’m talking about? The models holding the guitars move in such a stilted, purposely animatronic fashion, it makes me laugh to recall the scene. Tonight, Gwen’s backup dancers in their shiny leather leggings and gigantic Sia-bow tops took me there.

Anyways, my mind jumped to whether we could make it through a viewing of Love Actually with the kids and I decided quickly that, no, we aren’t quite there yet. Too many adult themes. Too much dialogue. I imagined the non-stop questions I experienced when I tried to introduce Emilia to Jingle Jangle earlier this week. Momentarily, I felt annoyed, but then my mind jumped to the day when we WILL be able to watch movies like that. What will be different? What will have changed? Will they be teenagers? Will they still want to be snuggled up, practically on top of me, on the couch, under their blankets, “Snowflake” and “Candy cane” the way they do now when Caroline wants to watch Frosty the Snowman on repeat, with hot cocoa? I doubt it. It will be different, for better and worse.

I realized in a flash that these days (with the girls at least), of having “young kids” are truly numbered, but for the first time, I had a specific sense of what was going to be missed. It still annoys the hell out of me when older parents remind me to “enjoy it because it goes by so fast” but as I witness Emilia’s sassiness coming out more and more, I recognize that things are changing and I really do need to appreciate where we are as a family right now. I finally understand that it’s the vagueness of this advice that irks me.

As an exhausted new mom with a newborn and a two year old, I couldn’t have foreseen then that I’d ache for the tininess of the infant and newborn sized clothing years later when I’d see something sweet on a rack and hopefully poke through the sizes only to find that sizing stopped at 24 months. This isn’t something moms have time to reflect on I realized because we’re IN IT and we don’t have time to put pen to paper and share it. But it’s these tiny moments — the way Caroline leaps off the couch with an ecstatic smile on her face and comes barreling toward me and throws herself at my legs in a hug, exclaiming: “Mama! You awake!” when I get up after she does in the morning.

Things I’m savoring right now that I’ll mention for you mamas who might be a bit behind me. Emilia is 5 (but going on 6 at the end of March next year) and Caroline is nearly 3.5 year old:

– the wonder in Caroline’s voice as she takes in our elf, Holly’s, daily antics
last night she was in the Christmas tree and Caroline was absolutely tickled sharing with me this AM

– that we high five, do a fist bump and then a hands-in-“go family” when we congratulate the kids

– how Caroline repeats my phrasing and encouragement. Lately it’s “You a good thinker, Mama. That a good idea. I love your brain.”

– snuggling with Caroline in our bed for naps. She gave up her afternoon nap at the start of the pandemic which was painful, but now, being 5 months pregnant and being able to snuggle with her and fall into a blissful nap in the middle of the day, safely, since Brian works from home is the greatest gift I could imagine. I have to remind myself to actually sleep and not stare at her beautiful little profile and long lashes all afternoon

– Emilia’s singing “Teck the Halls” earlier tonight

– Caroline’s uninhibited dancing and her completely organic learning of the same Shakespeare passage I taught Emilia: “I know a bank, where the wild thyme blows…” She doesn’t get all the words but her inflection and cadence are spot-on. I need to capture a recording asap.

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