Friday, September 14, 2007

Growing Up is Hard To Do

Knowing you are done having kids is a hard feeling to come to grips with. Knowing that the only diapers you will be changing and the only baby laundry you will be doing will be those that belong to other people's children is a reality that isn't necessarily a bad thing. But why does it hurt so much?

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.

24 comments:

Tabba said...

I'll be back to catch up on the posts I have missed.

But first. First I had to comment on that beautiful, big preschool girl in that photo.
She totally melted my heart!
You must be such a proud Momma (duh).
What a beautiful, beautiful picture.

Kyla said...

Oh, look at her! What a beautiful girl.

They just grow so fast.

Bananas said...

oh what a poignant post. It's so hard to see them grow up. Even while you want it... well, it's hard.

Queen of the Mayhem said...

I know this feeling well. I spoke of it briefly in my son's fourth birthday post!

I DO NOT want anymore children...DO NOT DO NOT DO NOT...but I am a little sad that my babies are getting older, and needing me less.

However, I do not miss being pregnant....UGH.....I was HUGE, hot, and miserable! :)
(Doesn't that paint a pretty picture?)

PS: She is SO precious!

LindaJ said...

We all struggle with not having more....even though I know we are DONE!!! I still think about more. Like 3 isn't enough! You know I found out yesterday that China has a new program that is faster then the waiting child program....umm, I just have to WALK AWAY.

I even feel sad our little Katie bug is growing up...she was the first girl for all of us...You know she had the special place in uncle brandons heart...and not everyone gets that honor..hee hee

Not The Mama said...

Oh so sweet. That brought tears to my eyes. And what a photo! She is so beautiful.

painted maypole said...

I feel this way with MQ, my only child. This pride and sadness at the growing up is a tiring tug of war!

WORKING MOM said...

I can understand how you feel. My 11 year old bought her first official bra last month. As she walked out of Victoria's Secret proud as a peacock, I was fighting tears. I still try to tell myself each day to enjoy every moment and to relish each stage. By the way, your little girl is adorable.

M said...

I just had baby #1 almost 9 months ago; thinking of baby #2 already; contemplating baby #3 too; am thinking of the day when we decide to stop having kids; loved being pregnant; am I weird for thinking so far ahead? I am enjoying the present 100% though:) He now has 7 teeth!

Ann(ie) said...

Okay Darlin....she is too cute for words....makes me want a girl!! To hear mommy you're my best friend? gah.

M's post above mine is tripping me out. I could have written it word for word and my boy has 7 beautiful teeth too. =)

Mamacita Tina said...

Aw, she's so sweet, and growing up.

I know what you're feeling - I had three friends just have babies. Oh how I miss that newborn stage!

jen said...

oh sister. i know. i really think i know.

what a lovely post.

alice c said...

What a sweetie - that is a photo to treasure!

I don't think you lose a daughter -if you are lucky they become a real friend. I would not want to go back to the time when mine were tiny and certainly not to being pregnant which was a very difficult time for me.

I adore my teenagers who are funny and interesting and independent. This is the time that I am clinging onto with all my strength. I can't bear to think that they are on the verge of leaving home.

Becky said...

man can i ever relate to this with hannah just starting school. and since we dont have any other kids right now it hit me the same way...how much i miss being pregnant and having a baby...and when hannah wants to make her own choices it creeps me out as to how fast time flies and that she's not my tiny baby anymore. she's a little person now with a mind of her own. katie looked adorable in that pic. congrats on being such a great mommy

Lisa said...

Awww. She's beautiful. Its like you blink you eyes and they grow up. This is a wonderful post lady.

aimee / greeblemonkey said...

She is gorgeous!

Mrs Pushy said...

You always write such beautiful posts! Thanks for another one~

Oh, The Joys said...

Oh, the letting go. It's going to be hard for me.

creative-type dad said...

I'm not looking forward to see my little one grow...

Jenny said...

Seriously, you are making me cry.

Redneck Mommy said...

Beautiful tribute for a beautiful girl.

But a daughter always needs her mommy. She may not need you to tie her shoes or comb her hair, but she'll always need you for emotional support and guidance. You'll always have that to hang on to.

Plus, for years to come, she'll always need one thing from you.

MONEY.

Welcome to my world, friend.

Rock the Cradle said...

Beautiful post for a beautiful girl.

The Impling isn't even 3 yet, but I know what you mean. We have moments when she is reveling in her autonomy, and pushing me away, and moments when we snuggle together and she is still my "baby".

It is a very sweet pain, this mothering thing.

flutter said...

Oh that picture, ooof my heart.

southernjoy said...

What a beautiful post!