When you are expecting a new baby everyone is keen to tell you about all of the firsts. There will be a first poop. A first step. A first fall. A first full night sleep. A first real laugh. A first word. A first illness. A first solid meal. A first sentence. A first day of school.
There are so many firsts to anticipate. So many firsts that seem so important. So many that you try to record or inscribe to memory.
Most of them will be quickly lost amidst a flood of seconds and thirds and so on. Some you will regret losing to time, some will be better lost. Some will burn so deep in you that you will recall them perfectly and often for years after.
What people never tell you is all the lasts.
There will be a last diaper. A last toddlers tantrum. There will be a last breastfeed. A last daytime nap.
Lasts are usually things you are glad are over. I think this is why people don’t mention them. That last diaper is a real relief and something to look forward to, but you won’t remember it.
Every night before bed I would read to my kids. There was probably a first bedtime story for us, but I don’t remember what it was.
The last was only a few months ago. That was a last that will stick with me.
They like to read on their own now. At night or whenever. I understand it and appreciate it, but I don’t have to like it.
Over the years we went from reading picture books and small short stories to entire series of novels. I didn’t keep count but I know that I have read, out loud, at least 50 novels to my kids.
Some of them I did voices for the different characters. Some I didn’t. Some were so dull I would tune out and think about something else while I said the words on the page. Some I had to fight back tears to read certain scenes. During some of them, everyone was fighting back tears. Doing that every night. Reading stories out loud. That’s the sort of thing that wears a groove into your heart.
Giving that up, giving up reading to them wasn’t something I wanted to do. Of course there are lasts. I knew that this would be one of them. I knew it, but I don’t have to like it.
I know that when the next book in the Kingkiller Chronicle series comes out, I will likely read it on my own, as will they. We will be able to talk about it and discuss it and share it in the way that adults and young adults typically share stories, but I probably won’t read it out loud to them. That stings a little. But for them and for me I know it’s okay. Things change and just as there are firsts, there are lasts. As long as everyone is safe and healthy, lasts are something we all just need to accept. I know it’s more difficult for me than it is for them.
Don’t be too surprised if I start reading some of these posts and recording them. I’ll just call it therapy.