Once the first year ends, it's not very difficult to convince yourself that your baby is still, in fact, a baby. Chances are they still chatter like a baby, wobble around like a baby and still even resemble a baby what with their chubby cheeks and deliciously thick thighs, making it quite easy to dupe yourself into believing that you are still the proud mother of a baby, certainly not a toddler or worse, a full-blown kid.
Once the first years ends, it's almost as if you're granted a Bonus Baby Year. Twelve additional months to soak in their still baby-ness and even though they may not cling to you the same way they once did back when their whole body fit in the crook of your arm, this apparent baby-purgatory-period eases the sting of the natural progression of things.
Trust me, I know that much is true.
I don't know, however, when exactly this progression from baby to kid takes place or when it does, why it seems to happen overnight. I have a feeling it has something to do with the moment you realize they do, in fact, have a neck. I had my first glimpse of Full Blown Kid the first time I took my third baby to the barber where she was merely doing her job by squaring away the scraggly, wispy baby hairs along his neck. Sure, she was getting rid of the party in the back that he had going on, but in doing so, she immediately made him look fifteen.
Quick, somebody give me my baby back.
I had my second glimpse of Full Blown Kid earlier this week as all three of my boys were out playing in the front yard. "Since when can the baby actually RUN alongside his brothers?" "Didn't he always do this gallop-y sashay thing where he'd close his eyes and just hope he ended up where he intended?" "Coordinated running means he's an actual kid now because the last time I checked, babies don't run."
And then it hit me. Even though we refer to him as "the baby" 110% more times than we refer to him by his actual given name, he really isn't a baby any more. Now, I know what you're thinking, "but he'll always be your baby! Stop blowing this out of proportion," and while yes, you're correct in the manner that he'll always be "the baby" of the family based solely on his place in the birth order, in reality all of the baby-esque parts of him have vanished leaving nothing but k-i-d in his place.
The chubby cheeks have thinned, his thighs no longer look like they're decorated with too-tight rubber bands. His neck shows 100% of the time, which also happens to be the amount of time he speaks in full sentences and strongly shares his very kid-like opinions on things.
I am now the mom of three full-fledged little boys
and if I'm being honest, it's making my eyeballs sweat.
And it's not making them sweat in the "I can't bear the thought of him being my last little baby because I didn't soak it all in" way but rather in the way of "this is really it. This phase of my life is truly over," way and it's that way that's giving me all of the feels.
In a way, I'm so thankful that I went into my last pregnancy knowing full well that it would be my last. It allowed me a refreshing perspective on things and I made sure to truly soak in every moment, even the hurting, uncomfortable and less-than-lovely ones. I carried that perspective through his first year and even well into into his second but it's at this moment, the moment before his second birthday and the start of his third year of life that the refreshing perspective overwhelms me.
That the last first's truly are the very last first's. That as he grows up, he grows away from me in only the way that a son can do from his mother. Each day that passes, the gap that separates us widens and it won't be long before he treasures me and needs me in a truly different, less-than capacity.
We live our lives in phases and simply put, the baby phase of my life is over. The door has shut and while I know I have a lifetime of more and different first's to look forward to, it's with sweaty eyes and a sheepish nod that I turn away from this time in my life.
While I'm now the parent of an almost Kindergartner, a pre-schooler and a toddler, of all of the boys, it's my third baby that has, without a doubt made parenting a toddler the most enjoyable experience and while I didn't memorialize his first two years on this blog the same way I did for each of his brothers, in a way, I'm thrilled to have kept so much of his life just between the two of us. As if subconsciously I knew I wasn't ready to give him up to the world yet- that I needed to hoard his babyhood, before closing the door on that season of my life.
Being the mom of babies has been a wild ride and there's a multitude of things I've learned about myself because of that. For instance, I've learned that I was a much better mother before I had any real-life children. I was much more patient, well-rested and the proud owner of dewy skin and an actual waistline before babies but if being the mother of babies has taught me anything at all, it's that none of that really matters. (The ten hours of sleep, the dewy skin and the actual waistline, I mean).
Being the mother of babies has taught me to be flexible. To expect the unexpected. To truly appreciate the end of every day as a chance to try and be better tomorrow.
Most importantly, I've learned that the neck that shows 100% of the time now, when kissed, takes me right back to the days when said owner of the neck fit so snugly in the crook of my arm.
For that quick and simple glimpse back to babyhood