OK, so I’ll be honest. When my daughter was a baby, there may or may not have been several nights where I prayed to any and every God that she would hurry up and be like, five years old. At least then she could tell me what was causing her to shriek like someone was tweezing her tiny baby eyebrows; I wouldn’t be changing diapers 24/7; I wouldn’t be up rocking her all hours of the night simply because she felt like staring at my face for three-and-a-half hours.
Everything would get just a littttttle bit easier when she got just a litttttttle bit older, right?
Well, sort of.
I mean, she IS able to tell me what’s wrong with her, she’s been out of diapers for years and I don’t have to rock her anymore … but … I kind of wish she was a baby again.
Don’t get me wrong. I haven’t forgotten the long, miserable nights where sleep was something I fanaticized about. I don’t actually miss changing her diapers and I get more than my fill of rocking babies while coaxing Braeburn to sleep.
However, it’s more than that. I don’t simply miss babies; I miss HER being my baby. It’s probably because she was my first. She’s the little doll who MADE me a mother. She’s the first person to prove to me love at first sight DOES exist and she’s continued to make every other tired cliché about motherhood true, time and time again.
And now, she’s five. She’s five and I’m sitting at her kindergarten screening and finally starting to absorb what this means for her, for our family.
Sure, it’s only five half-days a week; and sure, she still has a week of preschool left, but those things don’t matter. What matters is my daughter is about to REALLY start her education; my daughter is about to go to an entirely new school, make entirely new friends and have entirely new experiences – without me.
I know, I know, it’s important for her to spread her wings and all that fluffy, mature junk, but it doesn’t mean it’s easy to accept as a parent. It doesn’t mean I’m READY for her to, even if she’s COMPLETELY ready for this next step.
The more my children age, the more I start to empathize with all those annoying people who tell you to “soak up every minute” your children are tiny, whether they’re throwing tantrums or resisting sleep – one day, you’re going to miss this. Maybe where people make the mistake, however, is what they’re implying you’re going to miss. Of course you’re not going to miss the sleepless nights. You ARE going to miss your baby’s sweet little face as they stare at yours for the seventh hour (even if it means no sleep). You’re going to miss the wondrous way they drink in every aspect of your face, smiling, cooing and giggling at even the slightest flinch of your mouth. Of course you’re not going to miss the tantrums. You ARE going to miss them being so absolutely enthralled with you, so determined to get your attention, that they’ll do anything it takes – whether it’s a sweet, sneaky snuggle or an outright, body-stiff-as-a-board, red-faced, breakdown.
One day, you won’t be the center of their world and that’s OK. That’s exactly what’s supposed to happen. But it doesn’t mean you won’t miss those days when you were. It doesn’t mean you won’t long for their neediness. And it doesn’t mean you don’t want your child to spread their wings.
Ultimately, it just means you want your past-self to appreciate all those things you found so damn annoying. It means you become nostalgic as you check AM or PM for your daughter’s kindergarten; it means you become defensive, mama-bear when you think of people “evaluating” her readiness for school; it means you’re REALLY grasping for the first time that your children won’t need you so much one day.
And that might be the absolute hardest thing to truly grasp.