She’s not a baby anymore. Intellectually, I know that. She’s closer to four than three, has been potty trained for a year and a half, and is more than capable of carrying on in-depth conversations. But, she’s still my baby. And the reason I know that is that last night, she was up every hour. Not crying, just coughing and needing comfort and reassurance that I was still right there.

It’s not a bad cold, not really. She’s not running a fever, and her nose isn’t running. But it’s in her chest, I can hear the breath moving through her lungs, and as she told me this morning emphatically “I feel BAD, Mama!” So today’s a quiet day, with lots of her sitting on my lap, and I’ve read Green Eggs and Ham seven times this morning.

It’s only when she’s sick than she’ll sit on my lap for any length of time. I didn’t realize that until she got sick. Because when they grow up, it happens so slowly, so gradually, that you don’t realize that something has changed until it’s been gone for a while. It used to be that her default spot was in my arms. It used to be that she wanted nothing more than me, on the couch, snuggled up with her. But she’s big and bold and almost four now, preschool two mornings a week, and far too busy and occupied to curl up and just sit with me anymore.

I’m a little wistful today. Because it occurred to me that when Jessie and Sam, my ten and seven year old, get sick now, they don’t want to sit on my lap anymore. It’s not even really feasible for them, because they’re big. And as much as they still want attention and comfort when they’re sick, they’re happier with small doses of it, interspersed between episodes of Big Bang Theory, Avatar, and Friends reruns.

Mothering is all about adjusting. No sooner do I get used to a stage than they’ve moved on. We go from pregnancy to nursing, to solids to all of a sudden, they can request and get their own snack. We go from koala babies who cling and sob when we leave to big grown up kids who dash off for their latest activity/playdate without looking back. And it all happens without any fanfare, both so slowly that you don’t notice it changing and so fast that you can’t believe that stage of your life is over.

So today, I’ll snuggle my baby. My almost four year old baby, who’s not really a baby any more. But today, today, she’s all mine. I know tomorrow she’ll feel better, and she’ll be back to being busy and bold, with far too much going on to sit on my lap and read for hours. That’s exactly as it should me, and I’m mostly okay with it. But I’m grateful for the opportunity to be able to everything she wants and needs today. To be Mama, which is kind of my favorite thing to be.

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