And just like that...

Mercy started school last week.

Let me repeat that.

My 2 1/2 pound baby girl walked her 2 1/2 year old self into school last week.

How can this be??

Of course I cried. I did not expect myself to...

...but something about watching her walk into the school with her teacher and not even look back when she waved goodbye... something about that got me.

She's just a big girl now, doing big kid things like all the other two year olds.

I hope I haven't missed a minute.

...and I grieve knowing that I have.

This week, as I lie here recovering from surgery watching my amazing husband and sister take care of these babies who are barely babies anymore has made me terribly aware of how much I've missed.

Sweet baby boy crawled up to my feet and plopped his little bottom down. He looked up at me smiling from ear to ear as if to say, "Here I am!" Oh how I wished I could scoop him up!

Tooth #4 must have made it's appearance when I blinked at some point, he showed me at dinner through his big not-so-gummy grin.

Moments later, I said "no" to my precious Mercy and I broke.

"Help, mommy!"

She was getting out of her chair at the dinner table and I couldn't help with this simple task.

It's amazing how much you realize you've taken for granted when you can't do even the simplest things to help your children. To me, this simple task was a giant. It was a "help, mommy" denied, a moment lost, a chance to meet this one simple need one more time. Before I know it she won't need help getting out of that chair, she'll be bouncing out and running for toys. How many times have I encouraged her to do it on her own because I was busy doing whatever... cooking, dishes, cleaning, eating, texting, being lazy...

How many times has baby boy needed to snuggle and I've not been there to hold him close? How many firsts have I missed because I was looking the other direction? Did I miss his very first crawling step because I was reaching for the camera? Have a noticed every different smile and precious face he has made, knowing that our days together may be numbered? Have I enjoyed every sweet moment shared between he and Mercy, cherishing these days of them being 9 months and 2 1/2 years old?

Tomorrow they'll be older, tomorrow they will be learning new tasks. He'll be walking soon and she'll be reading. The days of carrying him on my hip and reading book after book to her are quickly coming to an end. They will need me less and less and I must hold onto these minutes before I miss one more.

When I broke at the dinner table tonight Mercy saw my tears.

"Ok, mommy?"
"I'm ok, sweetheart."
"A hug, mommy?"
"I would love a hug, baby."
"Ok, I get down and hug you, ok?"
Daddy helped her down, she ran around the table, hugged my neck and whispered in my ear, "ok, mommy. ok."

Oh sweet girl, I promise to stop taking our minutes for granted. I promise to cherish your hugs, your needs, your wants, I promise to hear your voice and treasure each word. I promise to experience every minute with your baby boy like it was our last minute with him, cherishing each one to it's core and creating memories with you both that will last when the minutes pass. I promise to put the dishes and the laundry off when I need to, to put the phone down, turn the computer off, read books, play outside, listen to y'all squeal and giggle and enjoy your raspberry competitions agains each other. I promise to learn to tickle you as laughably as your daddy does, and to sing with you until my voice is gone.

The minutes are passing too quickly and I've missed too many already.
I promise to make our next lifetime of minutes count, sweet babies.

Friends, these days with our little ones are going too fast.  Can we take a break, s l o w down for a minute? When our lives are spinning let's be available to each other with gentle reminders to pace ourselves. Let's commit to praying for each other and holding each other up in our parenting journeys, to loving each other and not judging. Let's make a commitment to encouragement and let's appreciate the minutes we have before they are gone.