When you have a baby (if not before) everyone tells you how fast they are going to grow up. They tell you beautiful things like "The days are long but the years are short." I'll never forget the first time I heard that, at a dear friend and mentor's funeral as something she had just shared with a MOPs group that week.
Of course it is true. We all know it, and if a mother (or father for that matter) is complaining they probably just need to vent. You see it when you try to put on their shoes that fit yesterday and can't get their foot in. Or when their pajama pants that needed to be rolled up so they didn't trip on them are high-waters when they get up the next morning.
They go from ooh and aahing you with momma and dada to telling on their big sister in such a way that between broken English, names, and gestures you know what went down before they finish pulling you down the hall by the hand.
But the full realization of how fast they are growing up hits you in flashes of stark contrast. That sense of Deja Vu where your three year old does something and suddenly you see them just a few months old. You want to laugh at how different they were, how different you were, and you want to cry because they've changed so much. And it is wonderful.
So Shelby singing the alphabet song in the car gave me one of those flashbacks. Her car seat was still rear facing back then. Tim was working and we had gone up to visit GiGi and Dude (my parents). Usually we would get in the car and she'd fuss a bit and fall asleep. Most trips she slept the entire three hour drive, or maybe woke up once to nurse. She was starting to babble some:
At every stop I'd pull her from the seat and take her, red faced and salty with tears, to get some fresh air. She wasn't hungry, her diaper was clean. She would smile at me and babble. So after a little break I'd put her back in that big car seat facing nowhere. I even tried to reason with her ... We'll never get home if we just stop!
My hand was numb from twisting my shoulder and elbow to impossible angles to try to hold her hand while I continued to drive. I would sing and sing and sing. For some reason the alphabet song is the one I remember singing. The thought even crossed my mind that I would traumatize her little psyche and she'd NEVER learn her letters because I sang them to her so many times while her world was falling apart.
Eventually we obviously did make it home, both hoarse and exhausted. My dad reassured me she was exercising her lungs and I'm sure GiGi, Dude, and Tim uttered many prayers during my nerve wracking trip. Tori never went through it quite as badly because she had big sister to hold her hand and entertain her.
Some of the drives are long and feel like you will never reach your destination. But you will, and you'll look back on these things you thought y'all wouldn't make it through and just laugh. Or sigh nostalgic. Maybe both. And she'll grow up and learn the alphabet song and how to read and write and one day I will miss her and the text message or email (or who knows how we'll communicate by then) that she sends using that alphabet will be the highlight of my day.