They sat side by side along the edge of the pool. My husband patted the leg of our middle child affectionately.
“It’s alright,” he soothed.
His face showed zero frustration and abundant love. I watched the way his head dipped low to meet her eyes, and she stared back in obvious adoration. He had jumped into the water with his clothes on when she cried out in fear. After swimming too far into the deep end and growing fatigued, our young, novice swimmer had called for dad’s help, and he had answered. I watched them together, and I knew I never wanted to forget this.
I never wanted to forget the tender, yet protective way my husband parented. I never wanted to forget the way his face changed when he looked at them, or how his eyes crinkled at the corners in joy when he was especially proud. I never wanted to forget the way his countenance transformed, taking on a look of total peace when he hugged our babies close. I wanted to see that look of contentment, the fierce protector on guard, or his proud grin forever. I never wanted to forget how my husband looked raising our daughters.
This morning I stood in the shower with my little girl, and I washed the thick conditioner from her long, blond locks. The water bubbled up slightly as it cascaded down her thick tresses, and I realized I never wanted to forget the feel of my hands in her hair, or how she giggled when the water first hit her. She wouldn’t always come tapping on the shower door asking to join me. She wouldn’t need my help much longer with the hair rinsing, or beg me to blow it dry. I didn’t want to forget how grateful she was for my help, or how much each child needed me. It was easy to get flustered or aggravated in the midst of the mess of being depended on so much, but I never wanted to forget the feeling of reward.
Yesterday my child had been walking ahead of me in the restaurant. She knew her own way back to the table, and she bounded ahead while still staying close. She skipped as she walked, her feet dancing with glee at every step. She found joy in every moment, she smiled easily. I watched her tiny frame, spindly little legs moving, blond hair bouncing up and down with her footfalls. I felt such happiness watching her in the everyday mundane, and I wanted to store away each bit of bundled joy. I never wanted to forget that moment. I wanted to lock it away in my pocket, press it between the pages of my heart, never let it slip from my memory. So perfect was that moment of pure love; I never wanted to forget.
I never wanted to forget the hugs. You know, the way their little bodies fit inside your arms. Or the way they’d rest their head against your chest in total surrender, complete trust, and unconditional love. A small child can sleep so deeply and peacefully in their parent’s arms, and I never wanted to forget that feeling that you get when you hold a little human being who trusts you totally with their life.
I never wanted to forget the utter joy of nursing an infant, looking down in your arms at the tiny person whose complete sustenance depended on you. I never wanted to forget the way their tongue would curl into a little loop afterwards, like they were still trying to drink milk in their dreams.
I never wanted to forget baby giggles, first steps, or the initial “mama” they spoke. I never wanted to forget how my kisses healed scrapes or how my hands wiped tears away for good. I always wanted to remember the way they greeted me with excitement when I came in the door, or the sweetly whispered prayers before bed.
I want to hold onto the memory of phrases like, “hey, mom, can I talk to you,” or “I’ve got something to tell you.” Those softly spoken words prior to pouring out her heart. The fact that she can’t keep a secret from mom, or that I’m the person she wants to share uncomfortable situations with, the person whose advice she seeks. I pray I’m always that person, but if I’m not, I never want to forget how it feels right now.
I always want to remember how easily amused she can be, getting excited over a sucker or a dollar store toy. I never want to forget the shrieks of excitement over going to a new park or driving for an ice cream cone. I want to always remember the joyful, “this is the best day ever,” proclamations, or how she giggles with glee over taking a bath in the kitchen sink. Please, Lord, don’t let it fade.
Parenting is a struggle. It’s tiring, and some days I don’t want to snuggle. I want my bed back, I want a moment of quiet conversation with my spouse. I want to not have to pick up the same things over and over, clean up spills, or scrub cups of curdled milk. I want a day where my name isn’t repeated 5 bazillion times, or where I never hear, “hey, mom, watch this.” But then I’d miss the look of accomplishment when I do “watch this,” so there’s that. I never want to forget the sweet is stronger than the sour, or that time is cruel in how fast it speeds by.
I never want to forget how to appreciate each moment for what it is, a passing morsel of time that tics away far too quickly, a moment that could fall away and be forgotten if I don’t take the time to look and lock it away. And I never want that. I never want to forget that each childish laugh will fade, each body grow taller, and each toy will be boxed up and given away. When the air is silent, the bed empty, and the cupboard full, I want my memory to be overflowing with each cherished moment I have right now. I don’t want to forget.