The Second Birthday ParadoxLauren Hartmann
Today, my baby turns 2. I suppose 2 means that she really and truly isn’t a baby anymore, though I reserve the right to still call her one. Probably even when she’s a grown woman, if only in my mind, she’ll always be my baby.
I remember some moms telling me that the first birthday was really hard on them. I remember them saying they got pretty emotional about the symbolism of their babies being a year old, like time was slipping away from them. Maybe I’m strange, but I didn’t feel like that. I was excited about Fern’s first birthday and I couldn’t wait to celebrate it. I didn’t feel the least bit sad. Maybe it was because I was never a big fan of babies, but to me, turning 1 symbolized a turning point of my baby being one step closer to the day we would have a bond that didn’t center solely around breast milk.
I’ve loved experiencing my girl’s second year of life, particularly around the 18-20 month mark… that was pretty magical. But, now that she’s turning 2 today? Well, let’s just say I don’t feel quite as ready as I did for 1. Two seems so much older than 1. Two seems like she’s turning into a little girl and not just a toddler. I know she’s still little, but every day she exercises that independent streak a bit more. I simultaneously love and hate it. I love it, because it’s a peek into the strong woman she will one day become, one who stands up for herself and others. I hate it, because it’s a peek into the strong woman she will one day become, one who doesn’t need her mama anymore.
I hope and pray that we will have a strong bond when the time comes that she no longer needs me and that she will instead choose to take me with her and include me in her life. But the idea of that is kind of terrifying. What if I screw it up before then and end up being the person she has to tell her therapist about? Dear God, please don’t let me screw this up too badly.
I never knew when I became a mother what it would feel like to have my heart walking around outside of my body. But, here it is. This girl has my heart. It wasn’t love at first sigh–we both had to get to know each other first–but over time I have fallen head over heels for this bright little ray of sunshine. She completely captured my heart and I cannot imagine my life without her. So, even though a second birthday is a day for celebrating, it also feels symbolic of a day that is bringing my little girl one step closer to independent womanhood. Something that I want for her, but that I still selfishly dread a little bit.
I realize this is a bit of a downer as far as birthday posts are concerned, but I’m being real here and I highly doubt I’m the only mother to have ever felt this way. Just sharing my heart… and probably some of those pregnancy hormones as well.
And two my dear, sweet, 2-year-old: I promise not to go all “Love You Forever” and strap a ladder to my car so I can climb in your window at night when you’re a grown-up woman. But, do you think you could do me a solid and just slow this whole growing up thing down just a tiny bit? My mama heart needs a bit more time to adjust.
Happy birthday, Fern!