Until The Last

By Ashley Patek

Until The Last

No one prepared me for the hardest part of parenting …

Letting go. 

Parenting is the longest, most gradual break-up. 

A story that grows in chapters, filled with firsts that turn into lasts. 

There is an impermanence that hugs each landmark as their tininess fades. 

As long as the seconds feel while we are standing in them, they quickly slip away. 

They slip away in the worry of “is this normal?” that comes with each new milestone. 

In the sore nursing nipples or bottle battles. 

In the sleep-deprived monologues that turn our world into murky moments. 

In the meltdowns that leave us teetering on the ledge of sanity.  

In the hustle and bustle of dinners, and baths, and never-ending nighttime rituals. 

They slip away. 

And before you know it, the chaos of now becomes a souvenir.

Memories in your rearview mirror. 

We are late to the game of “the last time” …

They come and go

And we don’t even fully know

Until it’s gone. 

We pray on for the next break 

The next developmental marker

The next … 

Yet, we also long to absorb every kiss

Every morning snuggle

Every hand hold

Every “I love you”

Clinging to the days of dolls and capes

And every trip, slip and slope of parenting.

Because intuitively, we know  ...

That baby on your hip will one day be too heavy to pick up. 

That little face that asks you for “one more book” and “one more kiss” and “would you lay with me just a little longer” will drift off on their own. 

One day their hand will be the first to break grip and they will outgrow that nook on your chest made for boo-boo snuggles. 

The handprints on the glass will wipe away, and you will no longer toe around the tornado of toys. 

Their little squeals of laughter will be a recollection of echoes in the hall.  

Those days you long for independent play will come to fruition. 

Your children won’t always be under your roof but you will always be their home. 

You won’t always be their everything but, to you, they will always be your heart’s beating. 

While the “lasts” are inevitable and messy and beautiful, there is one thing that remains immutable …  

One “last” that will remain timeless … 

With every breath, 

I will love you … 

Until my last. 

•  •  •

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