Monday, July 12, 2010

Bye-bye Baby Days

This past weekend I spent a lot of time going through everything the girls have outgrown. I separated everything into piles according to what I’m going to sell or donate and what I can hang on to for Goosie to grow into. As I folded all the tiny things from their baby days, I was overcome with how fast time has gone by. Packing up tiny little shirts and dresses and jammies made my heart HURT.

Goosie was such a challenging baby with colic, reflux, illnesses, and unexplained seizures. She demanded SO much one-on-one attention from the day she was born. I made a mantra of telling myself that I would NOT wish her babyhood away… No matter how exhausted I was or how little time I got to spend with Peanut, I told myself that she was only going to be that little for a few short moments. Every day she spent crying or whining or being sick I made apologies for the things I couldn’t do because I was tending to her. Somewhere inside me, despite my desperate attempt to cherish her baby days, I did what I swore I wouldn’t do… I wished it away. I found myself daydreaming while I bounced her or rocked her in vain, trying to coax a nap out of her, about the days to come when I could talk to her and she would talk back. Days when she could be dealt with using reason and logic and understanding seemed so far away at the time and I longed for her to be older.

Every time Goosie would have a particularly tough day or go through a really challenging phase, I would cry to my grandmother that I felt like a bad mom. She always consoled me by saying the same thing… “She won’t be like this forever. One day soon, you’ll look back and this whole thing will seem so far away. One day soon, you’ll stop and realize that she’s outgrown this and you won’t even remember when it happened.”

She was right.

I turned around this weekend and realized Goosie is almost four. She outgrew the colic and the reflux, survived RSV and has been seizure-free for two years. I can talk to her and reason with her. She understands the difference between right and wrong and she can easily tell me what her needs are. Those challenging days are past when I didn’t know what to do for her to make her stop crying. The days when I was afraid to sleep out of fear that she’d have a silent seizure are gone too. But, with those days went my baby girl. She doesn’t want to be rocked anymore. I can barely get her to sit next to me for a story these days. Goosie is an on-the-go girl and nothing slows her down except for that pesky nuisance of sleep she must endure for a few hours each night.

Today I long for the option of swaddling her tight and rocking her for hours. I wish I could put her in her high chair and feed her strained fruits and veggies and watch as her face contorts in all kinds of silly expressions. It would be wonderful to bathe her in that plastic blue tub on the kitchen counter and hear her squeal as she kicked in the water.

She is my last baby and I really feel today like I wished those moments away. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t have another baby. Two children are all I will have and I’m perfectly good with that but I didn’t realize how quickly they would grow. I was so careful to soak up and cherish every baby moment with Peanut and it was so easy to do with her because she was the ideal firstborn; easy to console, loved to be rocked, happy 99% of the time. Goosie was just so much more demanding and challenging that my commitment to enjoy those days didn’t override my desire for easier days to come the way I’d hoped it would.

So, as I packed up the last of the tiny little t-shirts and tennis shoes, I packed away the last of the baby days. I know there are equally special days and moments to come. My girls are growing into such special people and I really love seeing that happen. Watching the world unfold for them is amazing.

I think I’ll be more careful now not to wish away any moments….even the difficult ones. Because, once those moments are gone, all that’s left are photos and memories. You can’t snuggle a memory…you can’t smell a memory’s sweet scent. It won’t ever be as vivid and real as it was when it happened. Letting go of the baby in my daughters is a lot harder than I thought it would be. It hurts. A lot.

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