By: Tosha Woronov
When Leo was born I called and asked my aunt, whose own son must have been 25 at the time, “when was the last time you held Josh in your arms?” The question surprised her, but she got why I was asking. It had to do with the “remember every moment” sentiment that had been thrown at me a bit too often in my early weeks of motherhood. So here I was, cradling the phone and this infant, trying to do just that. My aunt and I pondered: when will be the Last Time that I hold this child? Will he be 6, having fallen asleep in the car on a road trip?…or maybe 8, as I carry him off the baseball field because he’s (god forbid) hurt?…perhaps 15, heart-broken over a girl (will he let me hold him then?)…
My aunt brings it up sometimes, that question from five years ago. She wants to be sure I remember to register the “Last Time” moments. Maybe the Last Times of her great-nephew will jog her memory of her son’s, like a vicarious walk down memory lane.
I don’t remember the Last Time I nursed Leo, but I do remember the second day after. He was almost a year old and he just quit. He wouldn’t latch on. Not interested. Finished. The day after that, after 24 hours of fretting, of thinking he was sick, I realized that he must be done with nursing. I cried. It was over but I didn’t know it would be over. I didn’t see it coming, and so I didn’t know it would be the Last Time. I didn’t pay attention, the moment passed, and that made me sad.
I couldn’t remember the Last Time he picked a yellow dandelion, but do know he was 2, and then 3, and we were getting a little irritated that he had to pick EVERY dandelion at the park, all 158 of them. We admitted to each other late one night, “I’m getting a little tired of the dandelion thing.” “I know! I have 3 ziploc bags of rotting dandelions in my car!” And then Leo stopped. I don’t remember when. He just didn’t do it anymore. But then the other day he handed me a dandelion as I fumbled with my keys at our front door. “Here Mom, this is for you.” I smiled, because he is sweet and because it hadn’t yet been the Last Time. I didn’t miss it.
I don’t remember the Last Time he told me I was beautiful, but I do know that, for the entire fourth year of his life, he said it every single time he saw my face. I know that I never tired of hearing it. Now I find myself asking him if my dress looks ok. He responds with a numb nod, both eyes directed at a Laker game.
I sort of remember the Last Time we kept count of VW bug cars. I know we got up to the twelve thousands (new Beetles are worth 1 point; convertibles -2 points; “old-school” bugs -3; and the mint-condition, shiny, orange old-school convertible we see around town -100). Not too long ago a cherry-red old-school passed us, and Leo didn’t call it out, although I know he saw it. I stopped myself from yelling “look, old school!” because I realized right then that he was taking some sort of a stand – an “I’m-All-Grown-Up-and-I-Don’t-Think-It’s-Fun-to-Count-Bug-Cars-Anymore” stand.
I do remember the Last Time he kissed me. It was 6 hours ago, as I prepared to leave him at his cousin’s house for his first ever sleepover. Until this week, he wasn’t emotionally prepared to spend the night at a friend’s. His feelings on the issue were clear: “I am not ready yet. I will miss you too much at bedtime.” But apparently his concerns ceased by Tuesday when he announced the opposite: “I want to spend the night at Zach’s. I won’t be nervous at all.”
And so this afternoon, very much aware that I was in the midst of a Last Time, I kissed him goodbye. I did it again and again, and he pushed away from me, annoyed but laughing, “Mom stop! I kissed you already!” I walked back to my car alone, stopping at the curb to pluck a dandelion growing there.