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I Forgot to Cherish My Baby’s First Year

Image Source: Lauren Hartmann
Image Source: Lauren Hartmann

I come from a family of two kids and so does my husband. As a result, I always imagined — assumed really — that I would have two kids as well.

Then sometime during my pregnancy with my second child, my husband started talking about how he would love for us to have three … or four … or you know, however many I would be willing to have. (Insert wide-eyed “what the hell?!” face emoji here.)

After breaking out in a cold sweat at the mere mention of “more,” I decided that the best plan of attack was to put the topic off for awhile. I told him I felt like two was probably it for me, but that we could revisit the topic after we got settled into life with two kids.

“Let’s see what two is like first. And if we’re not totally drowning, then maybe we can talk about having more.” Phew! Conversation avoided.

But, there was a problem with my approach.

You see, because my husband and I weren’t on the same page about being “done,” I went through my pregnancy and the subsequent months of my new baby’s life not truly thinking he would be my last. I rushed through it. And then it happened, just a couple of weeks ago actually. While sitting on the couch one evening, my husband mentioned our son’s upcoming birthday in June. Wait, what?! June? That’s only two months away! How is that even possible? I can’t possibly have an almost-one-year-old. He’s still just a baby … right?

And then I looked down, just noticing him — really noticing him — for the first time, and there was a 10-month-old man-child sitting at my feet. Twenty-two pounds of brown-eyed, blonde-haired, incredibly tall boy crawling over to me and motioning to be picked up.

Where did my baby go?

I didn’t appreciate his babyhood enough. I didn’t soak up those tiny baby noises or those early smiles (the ones that you convince yourself are smiles even though they’re really not). I didn’t relish the nighttime nursing sessions as I rocked and sang to him in the dark. I didn’t appreciate the snuggles during our time of bed sharing. I can’t even really remember his baby smell. Suddenly I understand what those little old ladies at the grocery store mean when they insist on telling you to “cherish every moment …. it goes by so fast.” Because I’m here. Right now. And I feel like I missed out. I missed my baby.

I didn’t appreciate this time until it was gone.

Instead, I spent it complaining. I complained about being exhausted. I complained about being overwhelmed. I complained about needing a break. I spent it counting down the minutes ’til bedtime and looking at my phone during those bedtime nursing sessions. I spent it silently cursing under my breath about what a giant pain in the ass he was during those weeks when he would inexplicably wake up every hour. I spent it being frustrated and grumpy. I spent it wishing away the time. “Oh, I can’t wait until he can ______! Life will be so much easier then.”

It breaks my heart a little that I did this. I know it’s normal and I know that it’s OK to not cherish every moment (no seriously, I even wrote about it). I did the same thing with my daughter during her babyhood, but since I knew she wouldn’t be my one-and-only it felt more justifiable I suppose. I knew I would have at least one more baby to enjoy these experiences with, so I didn’t feel any angst over it. But then my maybe-one-more-baby came and I rushed through it. Again. The not knowing if he’s our last makes it feel so different this time.

I still don’t know if this beautiful boy will be our last little one, but I do know that he is teaching me — reminding me — that each moment is precious. (Even the diaper disasters and the teething, though they may not feel like it in the moment.) I only get to do this giving-my-kids-a-childhood thing once. I get them for 18 far too short years before they’re off doing their own thing. It is up to me to cherish these moments and to fill their days with love. I’ll have bad days and days when I will fail, but above all I hope to be more intentional in my parenting. I hope to treasure not only what is left of my son’s babyhood, but also his sister’s threenager sass and hilarity and whatever else may lie around the bend.

These are the moments and I don’t want to miss them anymore.

 

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