Tonight was a parenting first for me. Since my son was born 2 and 1/2 years ago, I’ve looked forward to him getting older and I’ve appreciated his increasing independence without hesitation. Sleeping through the night? Hallelujah! No more breastfeeding? Thank you for my body back! Walking on his own? Goodbye pain relievers! Playing independently? Hello clean house! Going to Preschool, talking in full sentences, picking up his toys… each step he took toward independence filled me with pride, SO MUCH PRIDE, but also relief that these demands would no longer fall on me.
Then today in Target, I realized my baby is potty trained! My baby… except… is he still a baby? For the first time, I paused and questioned whether his getting older was a good thing. I had a moment of panic thinking what have I done? Where did my baby go? When did he get so big? Am I ready for this? Is it too late to change my mind? “Quick son, poop in this diaper, before it’s too late!”
Tonight as I did laundry, washing all his little underwear, I felt a sense of relief and excitement to also be washing some newborn outfits to get ready for our little one due in April. This will be our last baby. Our last one who will cry to be with me. Our last one who will depend on me for food. Our last one who will wear those teeny tiny diapers and be comforted by a pacifier and some gentle rocking. He will be our last baby who will want nothing more than to spend the day in my arms soaking in the mommy snuggles.
When you first hear, “enjoy these moments because they go so fast,” you can’t help but stare blankly at the well intentioned old lady and think she’s bat shit crazy. In that moment, you are baffled and want to point out your sour milk smell that you secretly fear is permanent, the various smudges staining your shirt, your poor neglected hair, and that you appear to be growing garbage bags under your eyes, but you are far too tired to comprehend words and it’s been almost two hours since your baby’s eaten, so instead you smile politely and hope your baby doesn’t lose his shit in the store. It’s only after those moments become a memory and you realize this not so small person will never need you in that same way again, that you begin to understand. Only then do you long for those moments of utter exhaustion when that sweet tiny baby knew nothing in the world but you.
So for now, I’ll hold on to these moments just a while longer. I’ll take advantage of reading Dinosaur Rumpus for the 100th time by hugging him close and resting my face in his baby soft hair. I’ll enjoy hearing him sing songs at the top of his lungs until puberty begins to steal away his little voice. I’ll insist on holding his hand tightly as we cross the street until he’s taller than I am. And I’ll smile as he calls, “Mommy!” for the millionth time today.
Because someday, this too will be only a memory.