Monday, June 27, 2005

bringing up baby

From the day my first child was born, I began grieving the loss of her.

I am not a mother who embraces the firsts (although I celebrate them). I am not a mother who looks onward with anticipation to the next exciting stage. I am not a mother who can’t wait until ________. I am a mother who mourns the “lasts.” I am a mother who clings to every moment as if my life depended on it. I am a mother who wishes desperately and fruitlessly that time would stop.

I am a nutcase. I realize that.

But you must understand. My baby is two and a half, and there will be no more babies.

There will be no more snuglis, no more suckling, no more sweet baby-smelling heads to breathe in deeply. There will be no more nestling on the couch, each breath matching my own as my chest rises and falls with a soft, fragile life atop it. There will be no more exciting photographs and phone calls about first smiles, first words, first steps. There will be no more babies.

And so each day I live with them, I am acutely aware that my children take yet another step farther away from me. Their world is expanding, and I will move farther and farther from the center of it. Some days I can release them, albeit with some effort. It is good and right for them to grow into their own fascinating little people. But some days, each step feels like a ripping and tearing—as if flesh is being torn from bone. Some days, I am overwhelmed with the sadness of it all.

The latest struggle arises as I prepare for an upcoming surgery, after which I will not be allowed to lift my two and a half year old son for six weeks. Preparation includes discussion about whether or not to transition to a “big boy bed,” building him up to handle steps on his own, and dealing with tantrums that involve lots of slack flesh flailing on the floor of wherever we happen to be at the time. We will work for the next month on becoming more "independent."

But I don’t want to. It is training that must come with time, but it is training I don’t wish to do YET. For now, I WANT him to turn to me with those deep, dark cow-eyes and raise his arms into the air and implore me, “Up please, Momma,” and then bury his sweaty, curly little head into my shoulder as his arms wrap around me with all of his sweet sticky smelliness.

That is a habit I do not wish to break. Not yet. This is a “last” I am not yet ready for…

The time will come for big boy beds and big boy pants. But for now, he is still my baby.

© 2005

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