I really wish I didn’t love the baby stage so much.
My second (and please, not my last) baby turns one this week. Everyone who asks and finds out she’s approaching her first birthday is so excited. Family and friends gathered this past weekend to celebrate her first year. My mom made lavender tinted whipped cream from scratch for goodness sake, with edible rose gold glitter on top. The fanfare was legit, and all curated by yours truly. And yet…
As proud as I am of my two-toothed grinning, wobble-cruising, ravioli-eating, belly-laughing almost-one-year-old, as much as I enjoy watching her moments and milestones unfold before my lucky mama eyes, as deeply as I love her and her three-year-old sister, a part of me aches.
All month I’ve been blubbering through the days, fighting back tears stinging at the corners of my eyes as I watch her little fuzz-headed sweetness make tiny new discoveries that feel so monumental. And though it’s been more profound leading up to her birthday, I would be lying if I said I hadn’t felt it right from the start.
See, I’m one of those rare, weird moms that absolutely adores the baby stage. As other mothers gripe about their lack of sleep, energy, personal space, and love life, I tend to lay around all day staring into the eyes of my tiny humans and wishing them small forever. (Please don’t vote me off Mommy Island yet. Aside from this new-baby obsession, I’m a pretty decent person, I swear).
It’s not that I’ve been blessed with totally easy babies, either. My first slept well but tantrumed hard from an early age. #2 is an absolute doll but didn’t start sleeping through the night until, oh wait, she doesn’t really do that yet. So it isn’t that I don’t get it. Just like every other mother out there, I experienced the highs and the deep, deep lows of being the mother to new babies.
But it’s still a season of life I treasure so wholly and completely that my heart literally feels choked by any notion that I might not get to experience it one more time. Three more times. Infinitely.
I’m no Michelle Duggar, and my husband was ready to be One & Done. So if I do manage to get one more baby out of him, it’ll definitely be the last. I am so grateful for my two strong, beautiful, healthy girls. I know that many women want to be mothers and don’t get to. I know that I am beyond fortunate to have them. And yet, I am wrecked at the absence of the baby stage.
Endless cuddles, quiet coos, tiny fingers and toes. The rush of excitement and pure exaltation after the pain and terror of childbirth, holding that little body for the first time. Meeting the people that make you believe in love at first sight. Being reached for and needed, the source of life, nourishment, and care. The connection with little humans that don’t know any love outside yours yet. Haven’t yet turned away, judged you, sassed you.
My three-year-old still reaches for me, curls her fingers around my thumb. Cries out for me in the night at the presence of a bad dream, looks to me for help in the kitchen, in the bathroom, in the yard. My eleven-month-old (for three more days!) relies on me for everything, lights up at the sight of my face, thinks I can do no wrong. They’re still mine, still precious, ever perfect.
I’ll never fall out of love with my girls, never find a stage of life that doesn’t bring with it pride and beauty on top of any challenges. I’ll always cherish the swish of their hair and the sparkle in their eyes. Always want to hear their thoughts and celebrate their triumphs; sit with them in their failures and take pride building them back up. My love for the girls will continue to grow and evolve along with them. This I know for sure. I don’t worry about that at all.
And yet a part of me will always miss those little babies, wailing out for Mommy and comforted in my arms. Hours spent lounging in the living room with a little sun wafting through thin curtains, endless trust and completely unfettered love. Little chicken legs growing slow rolls, the sweetness of peach fuzz and the earliest noises.
I wish I wasn’t so in love with the baby stage. My love of infants clouds my vision when it comes to how many kids is too many kids. I could rattle off a list of names for future dream-babies for hours. I could hold 20 newborns in my arms and not be fulfilled. As I try so hard to capture and to appreciate and enjoy this stage, I beat myself up, too.
For in loving any moment of motherhood one feels guilt. In trying to keep the home quiet to allow a chest-nap with baby number two, I certainly have scolded baby number one for just being a kid. In order to photograph every important moment with baby number one, I certainly spent too much time with a cell phone between us. In order to enjoy their babyhood fully, I have certainly not paid enough attention to my husband. And on and on it goes.
I wish I didn’t love the baby stage so much because I wouldn’t have to feel pain at its closing. I wouldn’t have to go back mentally and dissect every choice I’ve made that didn’t reflect how much I truly love it.
What about all the nights I sat in the slider, rocking them back and forth and wishing the night away so that I could get to another stage of life when I will actually sleep? What about the times I’ve pawned them off on a sitter or a friend to get some peace? Hours I missed out on babyhood that I can’t get back. Sick to obsess over, and yet I do.
To the new moms and moms-to-be, I say this: please enjoy it. Seek help if you need to (like I did) to get through the hard parts. But enjoy what you can. Try to be in the moment, trim your to-do list down as much as you can, take all the pictures, and ride the wave. Don’t listen to the people who try to make it sound like a nightmare. Because hard as it is, one day you’ll look back and only have it in your dreams.