1 month ago today my daughter turned one year old. Her first birthday though, which we way over celebrated, wasn’t exactly a happy one for me.
Am I thankful for her life? Absolutely. Do I love every moment I am lucky enough to spend with her? Of course…Mostly. Except when she does this terrible pterodactyl scream. THAT I do not love and to be honest, no one could pay me enough money to love it. It pierces your ear drums and also your soul and it’s the actual worst sound in the universe.
But the fact of the matter is…I don’t enjoy my children getting older. I don’t enjoy them needing me less. I don’t enjoy the fact that I can’t watch Father of the Bride without bawling my eyes out because all I can think about is how one day my own children, the people I grew inside my own body, will one day also get married and leave me and all I’ll have left are these little snippets of time I can’t seem to hold on to the way I would like.
And so, one month ago, my husband came downstairs on the morning of our daughter’s first birthday to the kitchen where I was making pancakes and found me sobbing. Spatula in hand, I was on the floor right in front of the stove because I didn’t think I could bear it. We have two happy, healthy, super fun kids (and I will never stop thanking the Lord for that) and we don’t think we’ll have any more. So, in a lot of ways, Flora’s first birthday was the end of my baby-world. The end of bottles. The end of squishy thighs and peek-a-boo. The end of me having a baby and the beginning of having two toddlers.
My husband constantly reminds me “It’s good for them to grow. It means we are taking care of them. We want them to grow up and have a great life.” To which I say…MALARKEY!
I don’t want them to grow up and grow away from me. I want them to stay little and fat and lovey forever. I want them to calm at the sound of my voice and lay their heads on my shoulder when they’re sleepy. I want to see them experience their first snow every winter. I want to raspberry their round little bellies and kiss their cheekies. I want to hold them in my arms as they sleep…but not for an entire night. I have to draw the line somewhere. I mean hold them for like a good 8 minutes while they sleep and then we need to part ways because Mama ain’t got time for that. Kthanks.
But instead what do these babies do? THEY TURN ONE! These little people you spend an entire year trying to figure out have the audacity to reveal their true intentions (to leave you) exactly 365 days after you spend X amount of hours bringing them into this world. And those intentions become really clear the moment you plop an extra-sweet over-decorated paid-way-too-much-for birthday cake in front of them. Aaaallllll of a sudden it’s “Get outta here! I don’t need you feed me! Hand’s off, Lady! I got this.” And so these precious little babies who, just a moment ago, were brand new smash their cake and your heart at the same exact time.
Of COURSE I want my children to grow into nice, normal, well-adjusted functioning members of society. But don’t be confused. Only because no matter what I do I can’t stop them from growing up. So my only choices are a) guide them into life or b) let them guide themselves and then they become psychopaths and Flora never stops pterodactyl screaming when she wants more blueberries (which I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy). But all I want is c) they stay tiny little babies who need nothing more than milk and snuggles all day every day.
So here I am, one month after her first birthday. Lamenting. All because tonight she has a cold and woke up crying and I had to go in and hold her for a bit. And as we stared at each other in her darkened room and I wondered how this could have happened, that I was holding basically a grown woman in my arms, she pointed to her bed to let me know she was ready to lay back down. And just like that my heart was smashed like her birthday cake all over again.
But when I whispered “Please just stay like this forever,” something I say to both my kids all the time, she smiled before she rolled to her tummy. And that little baby booty in the air reminded me that we still have a little more time.