We sit cross-legged on the floor, playing Candyland for the third time. They both shout, “Please, Mommy, just one more time!”
We color with their crayons. His are methodically placed in his pencil box, neatly organized, while hers are strewn about and half broken. I finish coloring with them, and hear, “Please, Mommy, just one more picture!”
I’m making dinner, prepping food, dancing like a fool in my kitchen. The kids come in and join in on the fun, the laughter almost drowns out the music. The song ends, and I return to the cutting board, until I hear, “Please, Mommy, just one more song!”
It’s bath time, and the kids are soaped up. I make them bubble beards, and they giggle and shriek. It’s time to get out now, but I hear, “Please, Mommy, just one more time!”
We read Brown Bear, Brown Bear for the fifth time. She looks up sweetly and says, “Please Mommy, just one more time?”
We play outside in the sun, their little hands and feet sticky from the sun. I push them on the swings, “Please Mommy, just one more time!”
It’s time for swimming lessons, and he is nervous to go in the ‘big’ pool. I talk him through what they will do, tell him not to be scared, I will be right there the entire time. He looks up nervously and says, “Mommy, just tell me one more time…”
I’m ready to leave the house; I’ve got errands to run, a ‘To Do’ List a mile long. I kiss the kids goodbye, and the littlest one shouts, “Wait Mommy! Just one more kiss!”
The littlest one is learning how to write her name at school. She doesn’t always remember what letter comes next in her name, and I often hear, “Mommy, one more time, what letter comes next?”
The tattered blankets they’ve had since they were babies need to be washed again from being dragged outside to build a fort. “Please, Mom, just wash them one more time!”
There will always be laundry to fold and dishes to wash. Bank accounts to balance and projects to tackle.
But one of these times that they ask me, “Just one more time?” it will be the last.
The last time they want to dance in the kitchen with me or have me read them a story before bed.
The last time they need help in the bath or the last time they want me to try the “ice cream” they created in the sand.
The last time they ask me to pick them up and give them just one more kiss before I Ieave the house.
The last time their little hands reach up for mine to safely guide them across the street.
The last time they hop onto my lap and wrap their arms around my neck so tight that it hurts.
I know this day will come; I’m just not sure when it will be. I do, however, know that I won’t be ready when it arrives.
But with every last time with my children, I try to remind myself that there will be many new firsts to look forward to as well.
The first time they learn to ride a bike without training wheels.
The first time they score a soccer goal or perform in a dance recital.
The first time they ask me for advice on a problem they are having, or the first time they tell me about a “crush” at school.
So you see, with every last, a new first is right around the corner.
In the meantime, I will do my best to cherish each and every “one last time.”