I’ve heard many times that you’ll know you’re done having kids when you don’t feel a sense of sadness when the “baby stage” passes. While I imagine that is true for a good number of people, I also think there are many of us moms who know we are done growing our family and yet when that final baby stage comes to an end we still feel a tinge of sadness in the realization that this part of our life is over and we will never experience it again.
Being a mom to a seven year old and rambunctious two year old twin toddlers, I feel totally settled and happy with my family size. I don’t yearn for another baby and I feel so lucky that I get to be a mom to these three beautiful and amazing little souls. And yet, although I know for certain I am done having babies, as the last of the baby things begin to leave our house I feel a true sense of just how bittersweet that is.
As this stage of motherhood officially passes for me, I can’t help but think about the fact that I will never feel a baby kick from the inside again or the tenderness and the comfort of nursing a baby to sleep. That newborn baby smell that causes your breath to slow and your heart to swell is gone before you realize you were surviving on those stolen quiet moments. Swaddle blankets with their soft edges and the warmth they bring when wrapped around a newborn so snug become a thing of the past a blink. The coos and the drool and the late nights rocking a crying baby who you are convinced will never sleep until they move out for college, suddenly becomes a thing of the past, and even though you should now be getting your solid eight hours your body still wakes itself up just in case. The Rock n Plays, activity mats, and rattling toys suddenly start to collect dust and all of a sudden it becomes clear that all things “baby” no longer have their place in your world. Everyone says it happens fast, and all of us mothers know those words are true, and it all seems to happen even faster the second (and third) time around.
So now here we are over two years later and suddenly it’s time to say goodbye to those little bouncy seats, and Rock n Plays, rattles and swaddles. Our world now has puzzles, Play Doh, cars, trucks, and dolls in addition to big sister’s busy life of school and cheer leading. The baby stage has been replaced in full by the toddler stage and the school age stage. I get to live both of those stages simultaneously and that brings another kind of joy I know I will one day miss. Passing baby things on to new families just beginning to grow now gives me such joy as I know the things that my babies held, loved and wore will be given a new life. Just as the clothes and toys, my friends and family passed to me became a part of our life, our things will now become a part of theirs.
Even in the thick of the newborn twin stage, I would often tell myself to stop and just breathe them in because I knew it was all so fleeting. Motherhood is filled with so many chapters and many of them are still yet to come in my life. I look forward to all of the new adventures and stages my children will bring into my life and I will always look back to the baby stage with tenderness and fondness. The window of time feels endless while you are living in it but looking back, it always feels like it went too fast. So rock that newborn a little longer, go to them each time they cry, nurse your baby even just for comfort and know it’s okay to just hold them and stare. Breath them in every chance you can. The baby stage is exhausting but looking back, it always feels like it was beautiful and the ending is, for me anyway, a bittersweet goodbye.