Remembering the Baby Days

Maybe it is because they are not with me today. Maybe it is because I printed out T's kindergarten registration packet this morning. More likely it is because I am more confident than ever that we were meant to have just these two, and there will not be another baby in this house. 

Regardless, realizing just how big these two littles are is taking my breath away and making my heart ache. I want to pause them, or put them into slow motion. And because I am an emotional cutter, I went through an album of old photos – baby photos – instead. Because it's the closest thing I have to a rewind button. 

Long days and short years, for the past five trips around the sun. I was here, really here, the whole time. I did not miss much, as lucky as I was to be able to work from home and be with them the majority of the time. 

So why am I so sad? Why do I miss those days so much? 

I hated being pregnant. Postpartum stuff made me a special kind of crazy that I doubt I ever fully recovered from. I struggled with not being able to sleep through the night until the tiny humans did (both at thirteen freaking months, yes, MONTHS). I missed jeans that fit, wearing makeup and showering every day.

The terrible twos were awful but have nothing on the terrible-r threes and f-you fours. I cried. I complained. I probably wished away entire days with thoughts of "when will you finally…?" If I'm being completely honest, I still do sometimes.

Now, looking back through my rose-colored glasses and the knowledge of how everything has turned out fine so far, I miss those baby days.

Walking around in a daze because you are working off a couple of hours sleep but not really minding that much. Learning how much you can do with one arm because you have a baby in the other. Wearing yoga pants all the time because they are the only pants that fit and that doesn't bother you even a little bit. Eating everything in sight because, hey, you're breastfeeding and you need  the extra calories. Knowing that your tiny human is finally, blissfully asleep in your arms because of the way their bodies go completely limp. And you still hold them a little longer anyway. The way they need you, just you, all the time.

Yeah, that. All of that. And so, so much more. 

Last Children – More Bitter Than Sweet?

Last night when it was bedtime, the kids were watching a show. I told them they could either come upstairs with me now and read books or go right to bed at the end of the show with no books. T opted to watch the show. A looked up at me with wide eyes and said, "Mama, I wanna read books with you. Let's go." Then she grabbed my hand and we began climbing the stairs together.

I let her choose several books and we read them together. It was nice having a little one on one time with my girl without her brother, who to date had never passed up storytime before bed. It melted my heart that she chose me over the television. 

Later on, I fell asleep wondering if this is the beginning of something new with T. He is totally into the Wii, iPad and television. He always has been, as much as we let him, but it feels different lately. He is a little boy now, and storytime with mom isn't as cool as television with dad. A preview of things to come, I suppose.

Today we're getting a ton of snow, so we've been knocking little things off the to-do list around the house. Hang that picture. Tidy up the top of the dresser. Fold and put away laundry. Everything found its place today.

As I was tidying up A's room, I realized the top of her dresser is still a changing table in spite of the fact that she has been potty trained for months. I dismantled it and put some books and stuffed animals on it so it wouldn't look so empty.

While I was dismantling things, I decided to take the front of her crib off and convert it into a toddler bed. Another thing we are long overdue for, especially since I have a hard time lifting her in and out of her crib. 

When I called her into her room to show her what I had done, she said "Mama, it's just perfect. I love it. Thank you so much." Which was exactly what I needed to hear. Then T came running into the room and gave his approval of the changes. (Mostly, I think, because now it will be less work for him to climb into bed with her in the morning.) 

But for some reason, when Ry made his way into the room I got choked up and started to cry a little bit. "If you weren't ready, why did you change everything?" he asked. 

"Because she is more than ready, and it's not about me, it's about her," I said.

And I meant it. But still – I am glad that she and I read stories just the two of us last night and that I took a little longer than usual before I lifted her into her crib. And that I stayed in her room for a few extra minutes finding her blankies and kitties hidden under piles of Barbies and princess dresses. Because in a way, I feel like that was the last time I put my baby to bed, even if I didn't know it yet.

Tonight, she will put herself in her bed and get herself up tomorrow morning. And because she is my last child, it is the end of something. It feels incredibly bitter, more bitter than sweet. 

I wonder if this is the way it will be for me with her. Which will be nice, in a way, the symmetry of it. With your oldest child, you focus on the "firsts", rather than the "lasts." I can tell you at what age T reached almost all of his milestones. With A, I am more likely to give you a range or tell you if she did something before or after her brother. 

Conversely, I haven't noticed a lot of T's "lasts." We moved him into a double bed without a second thought – mostly because he was even more overdue for a bed than A is now. I didn't cry over it once. 

It makes me glad there are two of them, a boy and a girl, to balance each other out. Okay, to balance me out.