I watch you as you play and I can’t believe what I’m seeing. You are able to build train tracks and know what pieces go where when you work with puzzles. Your vocabulary is expanding by leaps and bounds. You now describe things as ‘cute’ or ‘so funny.’ You are quick to remember your manners as I often hear you say ‘thank you,’ ‘please,’ ‘you’re welcome,’ and ‘bless you’ unprompted. You’re goofy and you love to make people laugh.
Suddenly, it hits me – I don’t have a baby anymore.
The change from baby to toddler comes so swiftly. It happened quickly with your brother, too, but I was pregnant with you so it didn’t bother me as much. Now as I watch you run and jump and play, I wonder where the time has gone.
I had heard and read all the advice to savor the moments for they pass in the blink of an eye. I knew all of that and I tried to take it to heart. I had also heard that parents don’t pay as much attention to the small stuff with the second child, but that just isn’t true. I wrote all your milestones down and took pictures of every little thing. We celebrated your baby achievements just as much as your older brother’s. Yet, here we are getting rid of your onesies and preparing for your 2nd birthday. Your ‘babyhood’ is gone and I can’t get it back.
You are beginning to talk in full sentences and you amaze me every day with your intelligence. Out-of-nowhere you will come up to me, give me a hug, and say, “Love you so much, Mommy!” It feels as if my heart will actually explode when this happens. You are a sensitive soul and a snuggler. You are also a Mama’s Boy – my right-hand man, my shadow. You follow me into the bathroom just to be next to me. I kindly usher you out, but you still try.
While there is so much to look forward to as you grow – new things we can try and new places we can go – I can’t help but feel this pang of loss. In a few months, your crib will be packed up and you will get a big boy bed. Part of me wonders if we will ever use that crib again or if it will just collect dust for several years in the attic before we decide to sell it at a yard sale. Each time I pack up clothes that are now too small for you, tears form in my eyes because I wonder if there will ever be another baby to wear these again. I remember that you took your first steps in that shirt and wore that outfit home from the hospital. I have the cutest picture of you and your gummy grin dressed up for church in these clothes. That was the blanket that you spent the first months of your life wrapped up in and snuggled in my arms. It still holds your little baby smell.
I wonder if I will ever buy another pack of pacifiers or bibs. Will there ever be a bottle rack beside our sink again? How much longer will we keep the high chair beside our table? Am I ready to live in a world that doesn’t involve me pulling footie pajamas out of the dryer and getting my little one all cuddled for bed at night?
So much of motherhood is marked by firsts, but as you grow, I’m starting to notice the lasts. Is this the last box of diapers I will buy? Is this the last night you will want to sleep with your favorite blanket? That show that you love and want to watch over and over, the one that I think I can’t possibly watch one more time – is this the last time we will watch it together? The problem is we often don’t know a moment falls into the ‘last’ category until it’s just gone.
The firsts are thrilling and the lasts are heartbreaking. Motherhood is this big thing defined by all of these little moments that find me in a state of near-constant transition. I often don’t realize that I have moved on to the next stage of motherhood until I am knee-deep into it. It is a struggle being content with where we are at rather than longing for where we have been or will be.
This time, I feel as if I am not ready to move to the next stage. But you are ready, so I must be ready for you. I see your desire to keep up with the big kids and how excited you are when you learn something new. I see your tender heart and the love you have for others, especially babies. Watching you has made me realize that I am open to the possibility that God might not be done growing our family. As I pray for wisdom and guidance in that area, I also thank God for you and your brother.
I love being your mother more than you will ever know. I am so proud of you, my sweet boy. It is the privilege of a lifetime to raise you and call you my own.