Drops of time

I hold my oldest on my lap first thing in the morning. She is long and skinny, yet somehow she still fits in my arms. She lets me hold her because she knows it means a lot to me, yet I know she would rather run around the house and play. I tickle her and attack her with a thousand morning kisses while she giggles and screams “Stop it mom! Your breath stinks!” I just want to have some time together. She really just wants to get away from me and hand me a toothbrush.

drops of time

As she squirms in my arms, I see her face. Really see it. I look into the eyes of a girl that shed the words “little” without me noticing. This little girl is not so little anymore. The realization makes me nostalgic.

Suddenly I am thinking of water – running water – a steady stream pouring out. So fluid. I am trying my best to keep it cupped between my hands, yet I can feel it running, slipping, streaming through my fingers. My little girl is growing up with each drop of time.

We celebrated her firsts, and now I am reaching, cupping, scooping as much of her as I can before she runs freely with those lasts. And what if I don’t catch them? What if they slide through the tiny holes in the folds of my skin and I miss them altogether?

So I stop the tickles and the kisses and hold her as close as I can. I breath her in and feel how small she still is. I know she wants out of my arms, I know morning breath is a turn off.

I let her go but the picture remains: the fluid water. I don’t want to miss it, not one single drop. These years I have with her are too precious to allow them to flow by without taking the time to splash in the water, to jump in, and to enjoy.

As I get up from the couch and walk toward the kitchen to get my morning cup of coffee, I feel little arms wrap around my waist. Ellie has come back for one more hug. I hug her back, thankful that she still has time for her mama.

“Hope you like coffee breath better.” I tease.

Ellie squeals and runs away from me, “Noooo!”

I smile. Maybe in a few minutes I will tackle her and let her choose what she likes best. I will be playful, present, and attentive today. I will make every drop count.

read to be read at yeahwrite.me

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    • Ellen Stumbo says

      And it just keeps running! I have to be so much more intentional about spending quality time with my girls – that is how I cup my hands – through memory match, building forts in the living room, and reading stories.

  1. says

    This post really hit home, especially the part at the end. I fear that too many times I am not fully present and attentive. Sometimes the reality of how quickly and fleeting it all is hits me and literally takes my breath away. It is like I have been punched in the stomach with this realization (even though it is really not a new “realization”). Your post has reminded me again the importance of making every moment count – not just for them, but for us.

    • Ellen Stumbo says

      Christie, I know exactly how you feel. I have even had times when my girls say, “you spend more time in your computer than with us!” and it is true, and I do not want to sacrifice my children and my relationship with them over social media, writing, and other unimportant musings. Thanks for stopping by!

    • Ellen Stumbo says

      Good! I am a visual person, I think in pictures I suppose, and every time I see running water I do think about my girls, especially my oldest.

    • Ellen Stumbo says

      Thanks for stopping by. I tried to get her to take a picture with the running water, she won’t do it! I want to frame it, just so that I remember. Maybe if I bribe her with chocolate.

  2. says

    What a sweet girl, and lucky to have a mama with such heartfelt intentions. Every kid should be so fortunate. She’ll love this post when she’s older even if she doesn’t get it now. It’s scrapbook-worthy!

    • Ellen Stumbo says

      Thank you Louise! You are right, while I do need her approval before I post anything about her, I don’t think she understands it fully, other than reminding me that I do indeed have terrible morning breath!

    • Ellen Stumbo says

      Yes, you are right, the beginning of a new school year is a reminder of how quickly they grow up. At the same time, I feel as if my girls should still be in Kindergarten. How quickly time slipped away.

  3. says

    What a lucky little girl she is to have a mother so aware, attentive and present to the moments. I feel like I fail at staying present with my girls daily and yet I continue to strive to do better. Your water analogy was spot on and lovely. Thank you for sharing such a touching post.

    • Ellen Stumbo says

      Oh Mary, I fail every day too. My girls are my priority, yet I don’t live that way many times. I will never regret not being on top of the latest news, I will never regret not spending more time on faceboook or twitter. However, I will regret not spending more time with my girls. Thanks for leaving a comment.

  4. says

    When I’m frustrated with my kids (which feels like always) I try to remind myself that they won’t always be sleeping just down the hall from me. That someday, I will be without them, and that I’ll enjoy that freedom for three weeks at most before the longing sets in.

    • Ellen Stumbo says

      It is true. This is why my husband and I joke about making our youngest sign a legal document that states she will live with us forever. My father in law reminds me I always talk about independence for my daughter (she has Down syndrome) but really, I will be totally fine having her with us always.

  5. says

    Reading this made me think of how quickly my baby will grow up. I hope I can appreciate these times while they last.

    • Ellen Stumbo says

      Thank you Cat. As for my girls it seems the older they get the less time they have to snuggle with their mama. So those rare times when I hear, “I want to cuddle” I drop anything I am doing because too soon I will be begging for their time.

  6. says

    Trying to catch running water. Exactly. I love that she came back for another hug and I love that in the midst of your sentimentality, you joke with her and tease her. This was a great read.

    • Ellen Stumbo says

      Thanks Michelle, I love that she still comes for hugs too. Maybe they are given freely to avoid the morning breath for too long…who knows!

  7. says

    So beautiful Ellen! They do grow up too fast and it’s so important to be present even though it’s even harder now with all of the internet and tech distractions. Mine are 15 and 8 (boys). I still get snuggles from the little one, although I’m afraid the time is limited. So sad but loving it now!

    • Ellen Stumbo says

      Stacie, I have been convicted of the time I spend on-line time and time again. If only it was a lesson I did not have to re-learn!

  8. says

    So, so beautiful with the imagery and analogy. What a sweet thing your baby girl is…and she will always be your baby girl. My nephew is one of the reasons I moved back home, and I feel this way with every one of the hugs he gives me. Soak it all in before it slips through! Lovely piece.

    • Ellen Stumbo says

      Thank you. You know, as you say this, I am reminded of my mom and how even now as an adult I have come to her for comfort, wishing I was a child once more.

  9. says

    My father said once, when I was in college, that time speeds up as you get older. I didn’t believe him then (of course) but now that I have children of my own, I know exactly what he means. Wasn’t my twelve year old just in diapers? Wasn’t the eight year old jouncing in the baby bjorn last month? Whew. Water is right – fast-moving, hard to catch, and (frequently) messy.

    • Ellen Stumbo says

      I have often said I don’t understand it. I laid my baby down and I swear int he morning they looked the same, still a baby, so how did the change happen?

  10. Larks says

    Very sweet post. “They grow up so fast” is one of those cliches that’s so, so true. The water analogy is very apt. It’s great that you’re mindfully focusing on catching the “lasts.”

    • Ellen Stumbo says

      Trying to, will I be able to recognize the lasts? I hope so. For those that have come and gone, I would have treasured the significance of the moment so much more had I known.

  11. says

    This is so great. And after having a not-so-awesome moment with my oldest who is growing up too fast just now, I want to go into where she is and scoop her up myself. Thanks for reminding me that I should!

    • Ellen Stumbo says

      I like to tell my girls that hugging can sometimes really make things better, even after we have a disagreement. They usually do, along with a roll of the eyes.

  12. says

    This brought a tear. I have never considered the imagery of running water for my daughter’s childhood slipping away, but it is perfect. You have inspired me to savor every drop today, too, thank you!!