Ready, Set, NO

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My daughter turns two tomorrow.

I’m.

Not.

Ready.

But it’s gonna’ happen anyway, because, that’s life.

My BFF and I had our first children within three months of each other.  So, we’ve been blessed to go through a lot of milestones together for the first time.  With every child’s birthday, one of us will ask the other, “How do you feel about your kiddo turning X?  I mean, this birthday seems like such a big one!”

We did it when they turned one, and two, and three, and four, etc.  Every birthday seems such a turning point.  The end of infancy.  The beginning of toddlerhood.  The introduction of potty training.  The birthday before pre school.  The birthday before kindergarten.  Every birthday holds such monumental significance, for us, the mother as well as for our baby.

But this birthday. . .

My daughter’s second birthday looms over me.

She is my last baby, and turning two marks the end of her babyhood and beginning of her ‘terrible twos’.  Not that I believe my daughter will be terrible, but like every other toddler in the world, she will start to assert her independence, have tantrums, and test limits.

Gone are those baby days that smelled of powder, strained sweet potatoes, and Dreft.  Numbered are the days I can carry her on my hip, nurse her to sleep, or nibble her toes.

I ponder this existential limbo in the few moments I have with her at the very end of the day, when we lie together at bedtime.  Sometimes, I sing to her, but more often than not, I just lie there quietly gazing into her hazel eyes, twirling a fine, flaxen curl around my finger until she bats my hand away.

I remind myself to stay in the moment, not to worry about the future, or long for the past.  Sometimes, I can do it, and it feels really good to just be there.  Other times, I just go completely numb from despair at the relentless march of time.

It seems unfair, but that’s life.

I try not to calculate all the minutes I am away from my children, weigh them against the moments we do have, and subtract those times from the times when we have mega-unenjoyable-frustration, and at the very end wonder what is left.  I try to dwell on quality and not quantity, but I can’t escape the sense that I am being robbed.

In the end, there will be cupcakes.  We will sing and she will blow out two candles.  The day will pass and then another, and I will grow accustomed to saying, “my daughter is two” when people ask.  I will help her navigate the world, celebrate toddler-hood, and love her a little more every day.

It will look graceful.

But I’ll never be ready for her to stop being my baby.

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12 responses »

  1. My son just turned two, and I couldn’t have explained my feelings about it any better than you just have. Although it has been so hard letting go of my little baby boy, he is the most incredible toddler. He’s smart, funny, and such a HAM! He will most likely be my only little one, so it was definitely hard seeing him blow out those candles! Good luck with the 2’s mommy!
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    • Thank you. Thank you. I know we will have many wonderful days ahead of us. My son is now six, and with him I have learned that even though sometimes I grieve for yesterdays, the love I have for my children grows exponentially every day, and it is so exciting to learn what they will do next.

  2. My little man will turn 2 next month, and I’m dying just thinking about it! This morning, I called him “baby” again (like I always do) and it just hit me. I can’t call him that forever!! I’m crying with you.

  3. My babies are all teenagers (except for one tweener). I didn’t think I would like these years as much as I do because I thought I’d have lost them to their own lives. But these are GREAT times and you have much to look forward to! Babies ARE great though!

    • Thank you so much! I love hearing perspectives from moms at other stages of this parenting gig. Your kids sound wonderful, and it is awesome that you are still so connected (which probably says something awesome about your parenting 😉 hopefully, I will be able to say the same when I have teens and tweens!)

  4. Completely with you.. Particularly trying to ‘be there in the moment’ for as many moments as possible.. Making the conscious straining effort to imprint each chubby curve, dimpled baby hands, tiny softese lips, the blue eyes gazing at me- just such divine deliciousness!! I look at my 4yo son and the huge differences already between him and our 2 1/2 year old daughter and it fills me with wonder and a desperate need to soak up and store each little moment and characteristic of our last little baby.

    • …and that is also why we will have a hard drive splitting at its proverbial seams with photos and footage every step of the way.. But I dread the moment, with a desperation, that it takes the place of my babies in my arms.. In the frustrating times I try to remind myself that as frustrating as they are, I will wish them back one day!

      • I know exactly what you are talking about! We have the constant slide show of thousands of pictures on my husband’s screen saver on his computer. It is lovely and sad a the same time. . .

    • Yes, yes, yes! I feel particularly sad when I look at pics from when my daughter was newborn. My son was still so little, and I was so sleep deprived etc., that I hardly noticed him. I feel like I missed a year of his life and it makes me so sad that all i saw was his appalling behavior at the time (appropriate for a little guy with a new sister) and couldn’t see how little he still was. But there is no going back, just forward and try to be more mindful.

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