It’s so quiet in my house right now, which never happens. My six year old went for a sleepover at grandma’s, and I’m holding a napping baby. My four year old went to work with her daddy just moments ago, and as I read the text message from him I thought again about his pink toenails.
“Enjoy the quiet time alone with the baby,” he had said.
I looked down at her sleeping, so peaceful, so beautiful, but so big! She wasn’t the tiny baby she used to be. She was starting to repeat every word she heard, and if she couldn’t say it she would try in her own toddler gibberish. She was growing up quick, but thankfully still loved to snuggle with me more than anything. I needed to soak it up, for sure. After all, that’s why my husband’s toenails were pink.
I had noticed the changes in my husband lately. A working man, he enjoyed his quiet, restful time in the evenings. He had his own way of relaxing, which typically involved playing a game on his computer, but last week it occurred to me that I hadn’t seen his game on in a while.
At night, instead of playing his game, he had started putting on television shows that our six year old enjoyed watching with him, shows about building spectacular fish tanks, or catching river “monsters” in other countries. They would make plans before he left for work of what board game we’d play when he got home, or how they’d have a soccer tournament, just the two of them, on his next off day. He cuddled with our middle child, and made up fabulous, elaborate bedtime stories that would rival J.K. Rowling. In the mornings I would smile as I picked up stray rubber bands and hair bows left over from a late night game of beauty shop makeover. A girl daddy for sure!
So last night as I hugged him before bed I looked down and saw his feet. Bright pink toenails stared back at me, and I giggled loudly at the sight.
“Yeah,” he mused, “she wanted to paint my toenails, so I let her.”
As I lay later drifting off to sleep I uttered prayers of thanksgiving for a present husband who saw the importance of time with me and the children. He inspired me to enjoy this phase more. Many times it was absolutely exhausting and chaotic, but then it was also perfect. It was so wonderful that you just wanted to freeze time, keep them little, and enjoy all the cuddles that came without coaxing. So you watched the baby sleep a little longer instead of folding that laundry, and did an impromptu take your daughter to work day. You didn’t mind playing that board game for a billionth time, retelling the same old bedtime story again, and you even let them paint your toenails a vibrant, girly pink.
They say the days are long, but the years are short. And I’ve certainly found that to be true. Each day that my eldest daughter grows taller and taller, it becomes more difficult to picture her chubby, newborn cheeks, or the way she suckled on the air when she slept, dreaming warm, milky dreams. The knees become knobby, replacing those fat, dimpled joints from before, and the time they spend out of your lap lengthens. Each day that goes by is the last. The last time to rock them to sleep, the last time to kiss a booboo better, or to read a bedtime story. The last time to bend down and tie a shoe, the last time to cut their meat into little pieces, or the last time to turn on the nightlight before bed. You have to enjoy each moment as if it’s the last.
My husband’s pink toenails weren’t just about a silly night of playing beauty shop, or even about being the dad of girls. It was about time, time that passed so quickly, and enjoying that time no matter what it might entail. We enjoyed a crowded bed at night, with swift kicks planted in our back, because we knew one night would be the last time they wanted to cuddle under our covers. One day would be the last time to hold hands crossing the street. So, until the last time came, you made the time count. You made each and every moment count.