My daughter turns two tomorrow.
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.