If I could save time in a bottle

Jim Croce’s song has been echoing in my head the last few days, as I’ve watched and played with you, Choo Choo. I don’t even know the words, so much as the tune, and the song’s desire to save the precious moments, and pour them back out to savour them.

Lately, I’ve wanted dearly to stop time. Not because of any perceived notion of aging (as has been pointed out by others, I certainly don’t seem to act my age), but for fear of losing you as you are, now. My little bundle of happy joy, your gleeful cackle when you see someone you know, your little giggle.

I feel like it’s all about to slip through my fingers.

You’re in motion, Choo Choo. You’re a skoocher. You slide along the floor, using your hand to push you forwards. In your sleeper, you move pretty quickly, and we have to keep an eye on you. But it’s cute — oh, so cute. You can slowly push open an unlatched door, to find Mommy or Monkey or me behind it, your smile and happy gasp announcing your arrival and delight in finding what you were looking for.

But you’re also on two feet. You want to walk, so badly. You want to walk on your own. You want to follow your sister, to play with her. You want to run. You’re trying so very hard. I suspect that before your first birthday, which is barely over a month away, you’ll do just that. And then you’ll cease to be my baby.

My little Choo Choo. I wish I could truly express the joy you create around here. Yes, you cry (and oh, boy, can you cry). But you laugh. You squeal with joy. You splash gaily in the bathtub. You wriggle on the floor when you’re on your back, your mouth wide open in delight. You coo and babble. You’re an epitome of baby.

It saddens me to know that you’re changing, that you’re growing older. When you start walking, your need for independence will grow, and just like your sister, you’ll want to walk away, to strike out on your own. You’ll want to see things for yourself. You won’t need me anymore.

Not that I’ve been able to give all that much. Mommy is the centre of your world — I’m just a moon that you see briefly in some mornings before the sun brightens, and that rises in the evening just before you go to bed. The lament of a working parent, I suppose…

I wish there were a way to keep you as you are for a while longer, to save away the moments we have, with you as you are — as my infant daughter, my little joy. I wish I could start my every day for all of eternity stroking your soft hair, across your warm cheeks, and look into eyes that radiate innocence. There is nothing I know that can convey the sense of peace I see in watching you sleep.

But I can’t stop time. I can’t keep you in perpetual youth. I will have to accept the reality of you growing up, and becoming yourself.

So if you find me, one day, poring over old photographs and movies, and I ask softly to touch your cheek and imagine, give a little pity to your old man who misses his wee babe.

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