Does it hurt because I enjoyed being to pregnant so much? Even though I had some major complications after Katie's birth, and now I know that will never happen again? Because even when I was a little girl I would stuff my babies up my shirt and pretend to be expecting, like my daughter now does. That feeling, that miraculous feeling of a little person squirming and moving and growing right there in your belly, it's like a drug. Intoxicating. Those around me probably don't view my pregnancies in the same glorious light that I do. They probably remember that I was emotional, irrational and sometimes a pain in the you-know-what. But to me, it was such a purposeful time in my life. Such a gift, and a state of being in constant connection to the life that was growing beneath my stretched belly.
When I found out I was pregnant with my first, I remember my Mom saying to me, "You will never be alone again." And she was right.
But although I have these wonderful people, my children, to occupy every hour, every minute, every second of my waking (and not waking) life now, I mourn the fact that there will be no more.
I mourn the fact that although I am so extremely proud of Katie's big-girl successes, with each of them she is getting farther and farther away from being my baby. Now, instead of holding and snuggling with her each night at bedtime, we read a book, give a kiss and turn off the lights. In the morning when she puts the sticker on her chart for going to bed, and she runs to wherever I am to tell me that "I did it!" my heart breaks because I know that the closer she comes to turning four, the closer she is coming to being a bonafide "preschooler" and no longer my needy toddler. While I want jump up and down for her, a little part of me is a bit sad.
I can't remember feeling this way with the boys. Perhaps it is because I knew that I wasn't done yet. Perhaps they kept me so busy I didn't have time to ponder it at all.
Now is different. Now I know.
Now I hear her telling me for the twentieth time that she wants a "back ponytail" today, and I wonder how did this ever happen? Since when did she get to be the boss of her own hair? That's my job, for Pete's sake!
Now I hear her protest the outfit I have picked out for her and I spend a little bit of each day trying to change her mind, trying to tell her why wearing a tu-tu to her brother's soccer practice is not a good idea. I am (quickly) losing the battle.
So we're going to have to compromise. I am going to have to learn to give up a little control while giving up what little there is left of my "baby" in the process. She is going to have to take my advice sometimes too, because once in a while, believe it or not, I will be right. She will hate that, but I will. We are going to have to navigate our mother-daughter relationship on a new level now and I'd be lying if I said I was totally prepared for it.
Because I'm not. I'm scared. And I'm a little sad that she won't need me as much.
So maybe, in the meantime, I'll tip toe into her room when she's sleeping in her big-girl bed and I'll climb in next to her. And I'll stroke her golden locks of hair that have wiggled themselves free of her pony tail and I'll kiss her still-plump toddler cheeks that I know won't be here forever.
And in the morning when she wakes and says "Mommy, you're my best friend," I'll say to her "You're my best friend too."
Katie, first day of preschool, September 6th, 2007.