I won’t ever see my baby again.
This was made clear to me yesterday, as my toddler kicked me in the face as I loaded her into her car seat and fought me while I tried to brush her teeth, sending her toothbrush flying.
I told her I was very sad. That I wanted her to be nice to me, and that I didn’t want to sleep with her that night. My exhaustion level was so high, after a few super physical days at work, and Phoebe in the care of others, which meant she just wanted me (and to nurse all night; some reason I have lost the ability to sleep as she does so). I was burnt out and touched out and so, so tired.
I put her in her toddler bed next to our big family bed and put her soft blanket over her and turned out the light. Her gentle crying was so sad. She had been such a toddler, and I just needed a break.
It occurred to me then: I won’t ever see my baby again. Her soft full baby cheeks are gone.
Her toothless smile is gone.
The rolls on her ankles and elbows and wrists and thighs have lengthened out.
She no longer needs me to move about the house. She sprints.
She can feed herself and requests specific foods.
The snuggles are fewer, and harder with her long legs.
She nurses still, but not the soft baby nursing. It’s comfort for her still, but it’s different and she sighs loudly, “no milk, mama.”
I lay there in bed thinking of how fast these three years have gone and wept. I could not stop the tears. And Phoebe cried too, mostly because she didn’t get what she wanted.
I invited her into our bed after about 10 minutes, longer than I ever would have separated from her in infancy.
She said, “Don’t cry mama. It’s ok, sweetheart. Let me wipe your tears.”
And she took her little hand and wiped my wet cheeks.
Hugged and kissed me.
Offered me a pickle to make me happy.
Comforted me for mourning the loss of the baby I once knew.
I let her nurse and she hummed a lullaby I sing to her, one my mama sang to me.
And I realized then... I will feel this loss my whole life, as each new phase comes. I will (maybe) mourn her toddlerhood.
Cry when my little girl becomes a young lady.
Mourn her childhood at her graduations, and wedding, and someday if she becomes a mama, I’ll really cry and say with absolute truth: “Where did my baby go?”
I needed that cry, I now know. And hope to get a good nap in today to revive myself. But I think of the things that I did that made her who she is today... they all stem back to her baby hood.
I comforted her, saying “Don’t cry, baby. Mama’s got you. It’s ok sweetheart. Let me dry your tears. Do you need something?” And snuggled her, nursed her, let her into my bed...sang her an old family lullaby.
It’s funny how I turned into the baby who needed some love. I have a feeling she’ll keep surprising me, loving me when I need it most, even if it’s her orneriness that made me grumpy in the first place.
Cycles of life. Circles of remembrance. I hope I can remember this phase... I’ll likely be sad when I realize I’ll never see my toddler again.