Eight years ago, I didn’t feel ready for one more baby. It was my third pregnancy, and she was the fifth child under the age of nine in our home. I felt overwhelmed by the weight of it and how a life already bursting at the seams could incorporate another responsibility — and do it well. I thought: What if I am not cut out for “just one more”?
My thoughts and feelings were warranted — but ended up being non-starters. The moment Teagan arrived, all of my doubt melted away. Of course there was enough room in my heart for her. Of course she was instantly loved by the mass of people in our home and lives. Of course there was room for “one more” at our dinner table, in our home, and on our already-busy family schedule.
Through the years, I’ve often marveled at the seamless way Teagan entered our lives, starting with giving me eight full hours of sleep before I went into fast labor the next morning. Teagan entered the world at 12:35 p.m. My husband remarked, “I guess I can go pick the other ones up from school.” She fit into our schedule and into our family, starting from the very first day she was born.
Fast forward eight years and our family is a grown-up version of who we were on that day in so many ways. There are three teens in our home and another pushing pre-teenhood. Teagan, the baby, is inching ever closer to double digits herself.
Often I look at my teens, and then at Teagan, and think “Weren’t they just her age? Like, JUST recently?” And I see how they’ve subtly shed childhood in such a short span of time, leaving behind their favorite stuffed animals, cartoons, or picture books.
It doesn’t make me sad, per se, because the people they are becoming as they near adulthood are wonderful ones — and with all its cautionary tales, raising teens is also a lot of fun. But this march-of-time realization does give me pause because I truly did not realize how fast that shift from full-blown childhood to barreling-toward-adulthood happens. I wish I’d realized it when they were younger; I wish I’d cherished it more.
But then I realize that I still have one more who is in that childhood phase where she still wants hugs from Mom, and draws pictures of hearts for Dad, and wants to FaceTime her grandparents to show them a craft she made at school. I still have this sweet, short phase of childhood — that fleeting time — with just one more. And what a gift to realize it in time.
This week, we went trick-or-treating in our neighborhood. I thought of recent years when all five of my children went together. This year, two teens were off with friends, another started walking with us then took off for a friend’s house, and my 10-year-old was more interested in chatting with her friends than rushing from house to house for candy.
But then… there was Teagan (and her friend Fern), literally RUNNING from house to house, yelling “trick or treat” and barely getting out the words “thank you” before sprinting to the next house. The excitement of Halloween had completely overtaken their little bodies, possessed by the joy of the one night per year that their parents let them procure bags full of candy (and on a school night!). The pure happiness and abandon for which they raced the neighborhood filled me with joy, too. In a few years, they’ll be worried about “cool” costumes or going off somewhere with friends instead of with their parents.
But for today, I have just one more to play LEGOs with, to laugh at fart jokes, to get excited about the tooth fairy, to hug me sporadically (in public), to act silly with no fear of judgment, and to observe really, truly being a kid before she joins the ranks of her siblings.
Happy birthday, Teagan. You’re a gift to our family and to me. May you always stay a child at heart.