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I’m getting ready to say goodbye to the “baby stage” forever. I should be dancing and shouting from the rooftops that I survived it twice! I made it past the sleepless nights, the exhaustion, breastfeeding and all of it’s uncertainty, the teething, the potty training (almost)…. I’m on the cusp of victory.
I never wanted to wish away my children’s babyhood but I had to to get through it. I hated it that much. I always thought I’d have at least 4 babies. Not 3. Someone would always be left out. But 4, so they could partner up. My husband wanted more too. Until I had a second and I dealt with it very poorly. Now he’s done. He never wants to hear another baby cry or deal with me flopping back into bed exasperated that the baby wants something again every few minutes. I want to say that now that I’m about to say goodbye to the baby phase forever that I’d complain about it less. That I’d know it’s just part of life you have to deal with to experience the beauty of dancing your baby back to sleep in the quiet stillness of a kitchen at 4am.
I won’t tell you to enjoy every moment because I know that’s impossible when most of them really suck. When you’re sitting at the potty with one kid while the other one screams for you from the other room and you literally feel your heart stretching in two directions. Help one while the other screams for you and be ok with it. How can you really enjoy that when you’re in the thick of it?
So I’m reluctantly letting it go. The baby stage and all of the knowledge that came with it. Knowledge I’ll never need again, because let’s face it. By the time I have grandchildren everything I learned will be irrelevant and my children won’t want my advice anyway. That’s ok, they need to learn it for themselves anyway.
My “baby” turned 3 last week. It feels weird calling him that because he was never meant to be my last baby. I didn’t savor his babyhood or think of every milestone as the last time I’d experience that milestone. Honestly, I never really enjoyed most of the baby stage, especially with him because I also had a really needy 2 year old who missed his mommy time.
I didn’t stay home and lounge around snuggling, letting him nurse for 45 minutes instead of the recommended 10 like I did with my first. I couldn’t. So he came along for the ride even though he hated the car with the passion of a thousand burning suns. He screamed bloody murder every time and I just kept bringing him along. Poor kid. But now he’s much more flexible and easy going than my first who thrives on routine and gets anxious about changes. Nature or Nurture? I’ll never know.
Each time I was pregnant I had an idea of what I’d do, or improve upon, and each time I was thrown for a loop. My brain completely forgot the parts I hated and the solutions I did remember didn’t work when I had to do them with a 2 year old hanging off my leg. I had to come up with new solutions. My brain tricks me, convincing me I would do it all so much better if I had another chance and I forget how much I truly hated much of what comes along with the baby stage. I hated being needed so much and now that I’m not, I miss it. One day, this constant struggle to get my 3 year old to just poop already will be instantly over. He’ll go to the bathroom and wipe his own butt and I’ll have no idea how often he pooped. Yes, in the nonemotional side of my brain I know they will still need me, but not for the daily grind and for some reason I’m finding it hard to let go of that.
Last night was a reminder. My 4 year old woke up crying because he’s fighting off a fever and peed his bed. Every time my head hit the pillow he cried for a hug. But then this morning I woke up without my 3 year old in my bed. He still comes sometimes, but not every night. One day it will end and he’ll never come and snuggle up beside me again. That will be so sad, because I won’t realize the last time until it’s too late.
During the baby stage I acquired skills and knowledge I will never need again. I don’t need to know anything about cloth diapers. Not how to find the best price, or how to get them clean. Nothing. Or what the best cost per diaper is for disposables or even where to find the best deal. I don’t ever have to buy diapers again. I don’t even need to change a diaper again if I don’t want to- I can hand them back to their parents. I don’t need to give up dairy or caffeine ever again.
I don’t need to know S(waddle), Shhh, I can’t even remember what that acronym was anymore. I don’t need to sing another lullaby. Or get up in the middle of the night and be alert. I still have to get up to change peed sheets, but I am never awake for an extended period of time.
I don’t need to know how to change a diaper on a sleeping baby without waking him up.
I don’t need to know how to swaddle a baby, or put vaseline on a circumcised penis so it doesn’t stick to the diaper, or that gerber cloth pre-folds make the best burp cloths. One time both my kids fell asleep on top of me while I rocked them to sleep simultaneously and then I was stuck there in the rocking chair. This will never happen again. I won’t ever have my own child fall asleep on my chest again. I won’t ever have those quiet moments dancing my son back to sleep in the kitchen to Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters. I very rarely get the opportunity to dance babies back to sleep and they are never my babies, so it’s not the same. I won’t ever have to have my schedule revolve around a baby’s schedule or nap ever again.
So here I am- a little ready to move on and be a mom of big boys, but still clingy to the hope I’ll get another baby to snuggle.
My 3 year old is potty training. Well, he’s potty trained, but he would rather hold it and pretend he doesn’t have to poop than go. He’s on the cusp. I feel like I’m one hurdle away from leaving the parts of the baby stage that I hate behind. No more sleep training, no more potty training, no more teething…
It’s no longer the end of the world if my kids don’t nap. Everything I was so worked up and controlling about for the last 4.5 years is irrelevant now. Everything I’ve learned won’t help me in the next stage.
What do I do with the knowledge- let it go? Erase it from my brain to make room for what I need to know for the next phase? Keep it locked away somewhere incase I ever convince my husband to have more babies? Pack it up in a box with the clothes and supplies I can’t bear to part with?
I don’t feel done. Will I ever? If I had more babies, would I feel this way every time I got to this part of the journey? Would I ever be able to enjoy the “victory” or would I just be sad about the parts I didn’t enjoy throughly enough. I’m not sure I’ll ever know.