I set Everett up in the driveway with a bucket full of chalk and went to town on the car. One yoga mat, three pairs of shoes, two sweaters, an umbrella, forty Halloween candy wrappers and six sippy cups later, the backseat was relatively clean.
And then I saw it.
Our Ergo carrier was twisted under the seat as if it were being saved for a rainy day. I brought it inside to the laundry room for one last wash before it gets packed up with the rest of the baby gear.
Everett’s feet pitter-pattered behind me—the sound alone a reminder of his age and size. My baby isn’t a baby anymore, even though I still call him that. He takes up more than half my torso and outgrew his changing table a long time ago. I blinked and my baby became a little boy.
A little boy that no longer needs (or wants) to be strapped to my body in unison. This realization brought on a highlight reel of flashbacks: strolling grocery store aisles, walking through airport security, climbing mountains. I remembered one of the last times that I wore Everett in the Ergo. It was a weeknight in September and we had tickets to a baseball game. Something came up at work and Brett had to stay late, so I (bravely) took Everett by myself. Together we made our way through the scent of popcorn and crowds of people, as my little boy observed every detail in amazement. We lasted until the sixth inning and I was proud of us for making it that far. I strapped Ev back in the Ergo for the long walk to the car, his feet dangling below my waist. I wrapped my arms around him to hold him tight and he laid his head on my chest, an unusual (but always welcome) occurrence. It was a normal, average night. I’m almost positive it was a Monday.
You never know when something is going to be the last time, do you?
One minute something is part of the routine and the next it’s just a memory. You go from giving your baby three bottles a day to one a day, to one once in a while, to never again. Sometimes you phase it out strategically. Other times, the last time is a Very Big Deal, like the last time he breastfeeds or the last time he sleeps in the bassinet.
But often, perhaps even most of the time, these “last times” are slipping right through our fingertips unnoticed, overlooked until the minute you pull your Ergo carrier out from the backseat of your car and wonder, now how did that happen?
It’s bittersweet, this parenting gig.
Today, I’m finding solace in the hope that for every last time ahead of us, there’s a first time waiting on the other side.