Kaitlyn is three years old and still feels very much like my baby, despite her ability to talk, run, feed herself (some days), and forego diapers. Hailey is 5 (and a half- that’s very important) and still feels like my baby too, even though some days the depth of her insight or the accuracy of her memory astound me. I’m beginning to see that things may always feel that way; that I’ll be the 70 year old woman that still refers to them as “my babies,” just like I do today.
However, logic (pesky and always getting in the way) tells me that the true baby days are behind me. I’ll probably never feel the butterflies of a positive pregnancy test again or experience once more the deep anticipation of wondering when labor will begin. Well, for me labor never began anyway (Hailey’s birth story / Kaitlyn’s birth story), but I digress.
Baby Kaitlyn; still feels like yesterday!
Coming to this realization was not easy. I’m not talking about deciding whether we were complete with two children, as that was somewhat OK for me to wrap my head around, but the baby phase being over? That concept was hard. I felt like I had reached so many of my life’s anticipated milestones, and what possibly could be left after babies?
Dramatic? Yes, but that shouldn’t surprise you if you’re a long time reader.
However, now I am in a place where I feel really good about where we are as a family. I cheer for friends announcing their third pregnancies (and beg for dibs on newborn snuggles) but the personal baby fever vibes no longer overwhelm me. I honestly wasn’t sure if I’d ever reach this place, so I’m really happy to say that I have. At least 98% of the time. There are a few things that have helped me transition in accepting that the baby phase is over.
Hanging out with other friends that are past the baby phase.
The beginning phase of motherhood is a funny place to navigate. The days can feel lonely and isolating and I gathered a lot of support and strength from moms in the same stage as me. I remember holding Hailey at 2 months old and being completely unable to identify with the mom at the store with her 5 year old. I remember thinking how far away that seemed. I needed to bond with moms that were also fighting clogged ducts, sleepless nights, and nap schedules.
Now here I am with young kids (not babies) and have noticed how much I still benefit emotionally from being with other moms in the same place: moms trying to figure out which preschool or kindergarten class to sign their children up for, how to best handle sibling squabbles, and finding the balance between free play time and scheduled activities.
This is not to say I don’t benefit from being friends with women in all of life’s stages (including my no-kid ladies!), but spending some time around the women that are in the same family stage as me is really therapeutic.
Getting Excited About the Phase We Are Entering Into
Do you know what happens when both kids are potty-trained? You don’t have to lug around diapers and wipes! When both kids can eat regular food? You can snag a bite from anywhere! When naps aren’t as necessary? You have a WHOLE DAY to get out and do stuff. It’s cool guys, very cool.
For example, yesterday the girls and I skipped rest time and went blueberry picking instead!
While a small part of me wants to be sad about missing the snugly baby phase, the other part of me is loving this new world of possibilities appearing before us. We have a boat ride up the Catawba River on the summer to-do list, camping on the fall list, and a whole lot of other fun activities in between. Being able to get out and do stuff with our kids is a pretty exciting new development.
Remembering Who Came First
I assume it’s pretty obvious that my kids are my world and being a mom is pretty much my favorite thing ever. But before them, there was me, Brittany, with a long list of interests all my own. And there was us, David and Brittany, an adventurous duo who loved long conversations and romantic nights out (our idea of romance is a brewery, so that statement is fairly subjective).
Oktoberfest in Munich circa 2010
Without having to worry anymore if the baby will take a bottle, we can now get a sitter and concentrate on continuing to strengthen our relationship as husband and wife. Now that dependable bedtimes are a thing, we know we have time to spend together, enjoying each other, sharing our days, and planning our future.
God-willing, the girls will continue to grow and thrive and live out the wonderful lives that they create. I want to be there to cheer them on, support them, and love the fool out of them, but I also want to be OK watching them go and live their lives while I continue to live mine with the love of my life.
Overall, I think what it really boils down to is this: focusing on the good that is in the life stage I am currently experiencing. There are always challenges; but there is also always something to love. Being that the only constant is change, I keep it top of mind to enjoy where I am while I’m there, because tomorrow I’ll be in a new place with new obstacles and new joys.
So my baby days may be behind me, but I still believe that the best is yet to come.
Have you struggled with anything similar?
I always expected to feel this overwhelming sense of “we are done!” like I’ve heard other moms describe, but similar to how I’ve heard you’ll just know when the right time to start a family is, I’m not sure I ever felt or will feel that. I feel overwhelmingly grateful for the family I have and the feeling of completion has slowly grown on me over the past three years.
How did you know (or do you?) that your family is complete?
Was it difficult for you to decide or was it an overwhelming feeling?