I have an almost-14-month-old baby, and she is my last baby. Because I’m 43, and I have six kids, four of whom are 5 and under, and I am one tired lady who would probably be turned away by the tummy tuck people (“In all my 24 years of practicing, I’ve never seen anything like THAT.”). Also, I had a sort of medical situation after giving birth this last time that scared me (you NEVER want to hear the nurse ask you, “Would you like to see a clergy member of your faith?”), and I chose to read that as the world’s way of saying, “GIVE IT A REST.” It being my…well, spirit.
All that being said, I must say that for me, being a parent gets more fun as the kids grow older. I love interacting verbally with these kids (not the “Get me more pancakes” part, but you know…the good stuff). I enjoy seeing them become independent people and marveling—whether in admiration or disgust—at the fact that they came from me.
But. There are, most definitely, those Things I Will Miss About Having A Baby.
Let’s skip ahead to 12-15 months, i.e. early toddler (or it would be if SOMEONE would get her cute pudginess in gear…ahem, excuse me). I have been part of a sleep-deprivation experiment for the past few years, and only barely remember the newborn/infant stage beyond lots of spit-up, poop, and sore nipples. It is all a big blur of rocking someone in footie pajamas back to sleep until I finally get up to put them down in the crib and then AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA (repeat).
So here are some things I will miss about the wonderful now:
1. The way she lights up when she sees my face. LIGHTS UP. Not like my other children, who, while usually happy to see me, often also have a request/demand/need for an immediate referee. A baby doesn’t know from complex tweenager emotions, nor does she have any interest in the perpetual “She took it!” “It was mine!” of the nursery school/kindergarten set. She is JUST HAPPY. Damn, that’s amazing. When I open the door to get her after a night or a nap, I swear the joy in that kid’s face could power cities. There is nothing more awesome.
2. The way she sits straight up when she’s paying attention, like she is being pulled up by a puppeteer’s string from the ceiling. It is a very cute thing that I know, from seeing my sons, will someday devolve into the slack-jawed stare into a screen, spine curved, thumbs a-twitter (pun!).
3. The “smack smack” sound of her palms on the hardwood floor as she crawls. I tend to forget about that once the kids get older and I get concerned about shoes—the way that my 3-year-old daughter coming downstairs somehow manages to make it sound like a bowling ball is rolling down an echo chamber. That “smack smack” sound is sweet, like a kiss.
4. The tan lines. As we get older, it is no longer socially acceptable to have limbs that are so pumped-up pudgy that your wrists and ankles are little crevices of a different color than the rest of your skin. But as a baby? OY is that cute!
5. Her babbling. In the morning, this kid likes to get up at around 5 a.m., which would be annoying except for the fact that she usually doesn’t cry until 5:45. Until then, she is talking in her room. I am not sure if she is talking to ghosts, or supernatural beings, or the stuffed animals on her shelf. It is highly expressive and very intense. I lie in bed—her room is what used to be a study just next to mine—and I half-dream, half-wonder what she is talking about. It is musical and lovely. Then she starts to scream and that is over. But those first 45 minutes are delicious.
6. The hugs. The cheeks. The pulkes. I mean, I have pulkes too, but no one thinks they are adorable. But her—oh, the softness. I could rub my hands up and down her soft arms and chew on her little cheeks all day if it weren’t something that would prompt people to call the authorities. She is SO SOFT. And cuddly. It’s like having a non-smelly, smiley koala in the house.
Sometime soon, she will get less soft. She’ll walk on shoes and bump her head on coffee tables. She’ll get longer and taller, and her words will show more and more how she is no one but herself. And it will be wonderful.
But…oh. Yes, I will miss her.