I love everything about the little years.
I love holding, snuggling, and being needed. I love guiding and teaching. I love that our world and every decision we make as a family, revolves around these little years.
Of course they’re hard and trying and exhausting. They take every single ounce of energy I have, forcing me to dig deeper for the last bit of reserve power that somehow always makes its way to the surface. Sometimes they are frustrating and leave me feeling sad or lonely because I’ve had to put dreams and relationships on hold.
But these little years, they don’t last.
I used to feel conflicted over having another baby, until one day I realized I was really trying to avoid the inevitable, the fact that babies don’t keep. The thought of so many never-agains, so many lasts, was poignant. Never again feeling those first flutters in my belly. Not spending those first few weeks in a bubble where nothing matters except your new baby and new family dynamic. Never again having that first meeting day, or bond through breastfeeding, or witnessing those first steps. It’s not a tragedy by any means, but saying goodbye to all the firsts and welcoming all the lasts elicits this feeling of deep sadness.
Because no matter how much we savor, no matter how much we try to live in the present and seize the moment, our littles grow up. And they do it too quickly, because time is relentless. One day we suddenly find that we are no longer the center of their world, even though they will always be ours.
And that stings hard.
What I want to know is, will there be a warning? Will we ease into them no longer asking to snuggle in bed or to read countless bedtime stories? Or will we wake up one morning only to realize all the little has come to an abrupt end? Surely I will know when it’s happening – that we’re on the brink of closing the chapter of babyhood, toddlerhood, or childhood. Surely I will notice that the boo-boo kissing, the button snapping, and the middle of the night bad dream comforting is about to conclude. Right?
From my understanding, this sort of mourning period we experience as our children grow older is universal. It’s why we constantly hear things like don’t blink, or the days are long but the years are short or the constant reminder (while your two year old is kicking and screaming in public, mind you) to savor every moment because it goes too quickly. Quite honestly, these sayings leave a pit in my stomach. Because I’m acutely aware of how quickly it’s all going.
Of course this isn’t something I sit and dwell on. Every stage offers something new and rewarding, and it’s exhilarating to watch your children as they grow into who they are meant to be. And I’ve made it my personal goal to live in the moment – the good and the bad. I want to savor it all!
But the strange thing is that now that I’ve moved on and embraced the thought of no more babies in our house, it’s been replaced by a different kind of fear, and a different kind of sadness.
I’ve been so focused on the present that I’m starting to forget.
It’s only been a few short years, and I already can’t remember the exact way I felt when the nurses placed our new baby on my chest after 24 hours of labor and waiting. I mean, of course I remember that moment, but I wish I could actually feel the way I felt in that moment. I wish I could remember the face my one-year-old made everyday when I picked her up from daycare, and how it made me feel. Or the way she used to laugh at the wind, scrunched up her nose when she was trying to be funny, or reached up her little arms every time I walked into her nursery in the mornings.
How? How is it possible to lose track of those special moments? The ones that provided more joy than I’ve ever known or the ones that left me completely breathless and gave me purpose.
But just like anything else in life, we eventually forget.
It’s why we have more babies in the first place, right? I vividly remember comforting my screaming, colicky newborn – still sitting on ice packs and living on 3 hours of sleep – when someone asked me when we wanted to start trying for our second. Come again? But eventually enough time passed, and I found myself pregnant once more – dreaming of life with another new baby.
Our brains can only hold so much information, and with enough time, we start to forget. I think that’s why letting go of the baby years or childhood brings this period of mourning.
It’s not that we don’t want to see our children grow older, it’s that we are desperate to not forget.
So here I am, four years into this motherhood thing, dedicated to finding the joy and savoring all the moments. All while feverishly trying to find a way to memorize them.
Because, sadly, this mom brain of mine is already starting to forget.