A year ago, for the first five months of his life, I spent every night holding my second son to sleep. Chest to chest, his head would be lolling slightly on my shoulder, mouth open just so, tired eyes finally closed.

I would feel his weight, comfortable in my arms, all 15 pounds of soft baby and fuzzy hair, warmly nestled where he should be. I listened to his gentle breathing, slowing, as he fell into deeper sleep. Only then, did I dare lower him into his crib, tucking him under the linen swaddle blanket. I would watch my 4 month old for a few more minutes, willing him fervently to stay asleep. Then quietly, I would stealthily back out of his room. I would miss his solid baby-ness in my now empty arms as soon as I shut the door.

Arms never empty
I joked once that with two children now, my arms will never truly be empty. That is my truth, and a reality I love. A year ago, no sooner would I lay the baby down for his nap or bedtime, my toddler would come barreling into me, throwing his arms around my neck and I would be surprised at how big he seemed. As we walked hand in hand, his small one in my slightly big one, I marveled again at how much he has grown, his fingers once a third the size of mine, now half as long. His head, a mop of messy brown hair, was once fuzzy like his baby brother’s. I mussed his not-so-little head, and wondered when he grew so tall, he had reached my waist.

Growing up fast

That toddler is now an even taller preschooler, the only remnants of toddlerhood, his still-chubby cheeks. The baby is now the toddler, his baby-ness still evident, but in elongated arms and legs, and less so in all the things that 15 month olds do – walking, running, climbing, saying words, feeding himself, drinking water from a cup.

So much has changed, and yet, nothing has changed. I still hold their small (but bigger) hands, fingers entwined. My oldest still cuddles with me, sitting in my lap, arms around my neck like before. His little brother still loves to be held to sleep, although only for a minute. There is so much I still do for them, but so much that I don’t anymore.

This is the tangible part of motherhood I love so much. Feeling their hands in mine, hearing their voices and laughs, squeezing them close to me. This is love in all its physicalness.

What part of your children’s physicalness do you enjoy the most?

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Alison Lee DrGreene.com contributor

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