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Our sweet Avra turned one at the beginning of the month but due to scheduling we were only just able to celebrate this past weekend. All birthdays are a big deal to me but I especially love first birthdays. It is a huge thing to survive that first year, both mother and baby, and they grow so fast, learn so much, make it through so much. In my house, it is also the first time the child tastes chocolate, and for having a mother that loves to cook desserts that is a big thing to wait that long.

This birthday may not have been as exciting as birthdays past and Sunshine baby was less than inspired by the cake while battling a stuffy nose and being preoccupied with those around her watching her eat, but it still gave me a slight twinge of sadness.

I love each stage of my kids growing up, but some I appreciate when they are over, like not being able to self-feed or potty training. Babies can be hard work, require a lot of attention, and this sweet one, our little Avra, was very needy in the beginning. She was colicky, she hated everyone but me and would scream her objections to anyone who even dared to look at her, she cried when the other kids were too loud, and she was sometimes exhausting. I put on a brave face but I really think I hit a bit of depression dealing with her and the other three and trying to act like it was all no big deal. I mean, I asked for it, right?

But still.

Even after all of that it did get easier and things were better and she laughs and loves and smirks and brings joy to us. So while we were celebrating the last of first birthdays in our house, some friends were having babies and I couldn’t help but feel a little sad.

I will not know the feeling again of seeing your baby for the first time, hearing them cry.

I will not know that new baby smell, the quiet moments in the hospital with just you and the new creature you created, just staring in wonder for what seems like hours as you memorize each new feature.

I will not know the tiny clothes, tiny hands and feet, fat kissable cheeks.

My body has been ravaged and scarred and all but ruined over four babies and the recovery was always hard, the nights sleepless. I don’t forget that either and am grateful not to go through that again.

But the last of firsts is occurring already and it makes you appreciate it all the more.

Last first smile. Last first laugh. Last first kiss and hug. Last first clap of joy. Last first steps soon approaching.

Always reminding me of how time goes by so fast and I can’t slow it down. I have to enjoy these moments while I am in it, not eagerly looking forward to other new moments at the risk of missing these that are right before me.

So I will enjoy the firsts and the middles and in-betweens and last first with all my kids, remembering to celebrate accomplishments, encourage in failures, and correct when needed. Because it all goes by so very, very fast. What was the first of everything is now a six year old boy who can read and do math and likes ninjas and superheroes and wears glasses for goodness sake. The second one is not far behind and our third is busy dancing through life and determining on her own when she is ready to do just about everything except breathe and only because it’s not voluntary. So the fourth is approaching all her firsts, trying to keep up with the rest, and I am just holding my breath, watching it all move ever forward. Life is an amazing thing with momentum that builds with time passing and I just want to take it all in.

So I may have been a little sad but I still watched her enjoy that cake for the first time, staying in the moment of handing out cake and ice cream to a dozen little hands and taking pictures and staying present.

I don’t want to miss it, life.

Here’s to the last of firsts, and may I embrace them as they come.