At the breakfast table this morning, my 5-year-old asked me a question about his little brother. "Is Finn a toddler now?" I started to respond and said, "No, he's still a baby," but then stopped myself. Before I knew it, tears started to well up in my consistently tired eyes. I went from being OK to devastated in about six seconds flat. Because, well, he totally isn't a baby anymore. And I can't pretend that he is. The last baby I'll ever have turned 1 and I'm feeling all the emotions about it. Every. Single. One. In fact, I think I'm losing it a little bit.
They say (and "they" always have something to say) that when you have kids, the days are long, sometimes unbearably so, and the years are short and by way, way too fast. It's amazing when you think about how much your children grow and change during their first year of life. One minute they're tiny, loud potatoes, and the next minute they're actual little people who are equally loud, but in different ways, and have their own vibrant personalities. We, as parents, watch these human beings we love so much learn an incredible amount of new things that first year. We clap and cheer as they roll over, crawl, take their first steps, say their first words, and smash their first birthday cake. Then, almost suddenly, they start talking back and walking away and throwing temper tantrums and you wonder what exactly happened to your precious baby.
This isn't my first baby to reach their first birthday, but my youngest son is my last. And I think the fact that this will be the last first birthday I ever celebrate with my children has me way more emotional than I've ever been before, with any of my older children. You see, after Finn (my now 1-year-old son) was born, I got my tubes tied. So he’s my last baby. My last baby. Wow. It sounds so surreal. So final. So irreversible and ultimate and binding. It actually seems appropriate that my last baby's name is Finn, as the word Fin in French means "end."
I've had no time to come to terms with the fact that my baby has left babyhood. No time to saver the last few days, hours, minutes of his baby life. They're gone, and I know I cannot get them back.
And what makes this realization all the more difficult is the undeniable fact that my last baby is not, in fact, a baby at all anymore. Yes, he's still cute and has yet to reach the stage where he doesn't want mama snuggles or has stopped reaching for me to pick him up. But he is now walking circles around me, reaching new heights and finding new ways to get himself into trouble every damn day. His favorite hobbies have gone from gurgling and smiling to trying to get into the bathroom, eating cat food, and chewing on my cellphone. And these changes have all happened, seemingly, over night. I've had no time to come to terms with the fact that my baby has left babyhood. No time to saver the last few days, hours, minutes of his baby life. They're gone, and I know I cannot get them back.
I mean, I literally can’t stop crying. Even now. Like, right this second tears are streaming down my face. How is this possible? How did this happen? He's my baby. Forever. So how did he grow up so fast? I can't believe how fast this year has flown by. How quickly I found myself not holding a newborn, but chasing a very mobile toddler around my home. One part of me wishes he was still tiny, warm, and intoxicating, only because I can't make myself acknowledge that I will never have a tiny baby to squish again. I can't handle the thought of it, let alone accept that thought for what it is: reality.
One part of me wishes he was still tiny, warm, and intoxicating, only because I can't make myself acknowledge that I will never have a tiny baby to squish again.
Another part of me, however, has been here before, so I know what I'm in for. So I can't wait for him to grow and develop into his own person. And, to be honest, I'm so ready to be done with diapers. I'm ready for him to start school and I can't wait to get to know him as his own autonomous human being, and not an extension of myself. I can't wait to sleep for eight hours in a row, because of all of the things I miss as a mom, I miss sleep most of all. In the past almost nine years of motherhood, I've learned that every age and stage of my children's constantly evolving lives is more fun than the last. Except age 3, that is. I'm not gonna lie — 3 totally sucks.
I am actually pretty proud to have made it to a year relatively unscathed. My kids are healthy and thriving, and I feel better and more like "me" again. There are things I won't miss, like pregnancy, the first time my baby cried or got hurt, and the first poop after eating blueberries. But, there are other moments — midnight feedings, baby snuggles, and hearing "mama" for the first time — that I wouldn't mind repeating over and over and over again.
So, yeah, I am totally feeling all the emotions as my last baby leaves babyhood behind. In fact, I have found myself on a proverbial roller coaster of happy, sad, excitement, and regret. If I could go back in time, I probably would have done a few things differently, too, but I can't. He's my last baby, so it's not like I can change things "the next time." And, well, I can't wrap my head around that. So, I am trying not to think about him being my last baby, and instead I'm trying to enjoy toddler snuggles, babbles, and high fives. I'm trying to hold onto the hope that, tomorrow, I won't miss my last baby anymore.
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