Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Goodbye Baby

There's a thought that I just can't shake lately. I look at Mathilda and I am blown away that this time next year she's going to be a bonafide preschooler. Right now she still has her baby looks. She's 2 and a half, but she still is a baby as far as I'm concerned. I could squeeze her chunky little legs all day long. Her skin is soft and flawless and her hair, though long, is baby-fine. She wants me to kiss all of her boo-boos, yet she squirms out of my lap and cuts our cuddles short so she can run off and do her own thing . She's a pretty good talker, but oftentimes Chris and I still need to translate. My baby girl is on the cusp of not being a baby anymore. (Now if she would just start using the potty...)

When we moved into this house two and a half years ago, Lucy was the same age that Mathilda is now (okay, 2 months older). Mathilda is starting to wear the clothes that Lucy was wearing at that time. Two and a half years is not that long. In that time, Lucy went from being my baby to being a big shot kindergartener. These thoughts are hurting my heart. I knew, when I became a parent, that my kids would grow away from me. But I couldn't have imagined how hard it would be to let them go.

Mathilda stopped sleeping in her crib over a month ago, and the garbage men took the broken and outlawed thing away a week or two ago. All of my babies slept in that crib. My grandma bought it for me when I was pregnant with Bethany. While they will always be my babies, even when they're grown and have babies of their own, a last vestige of all of their babyhoods just went out with the trash.

Watching my kids grow up is wondrous and exciting. Witnessing them become more independent is gratifying. But it's bittersweet. Maybe I need to be needed, maybe I just relish the relative simplicity of the baby and toddler stages. Yes,  in many respects it's more intense and more draining, but I love being "in it". Once they're in school, so much of their lives happen without me being right in the midst of it all. Every day, three of my kids spend hours away from me, and all I can get out of them after school are cryptic and vague comments like, "we had indoor recess," or, "we had a guest teacher," or maybe, "I have homework." I ask questions, prying information out of them, but it's not easy going. I am not the center of their world anymore, as they are mine. I can only hope that as they grow they'll continue to need me, and they'll invite me in, and let me run my fingers through their hair, smoothing their cowlicks and kissing their sweet cheeks all the while.

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