You are my last. The last child I will ever have. The last baby I will rock to sleep or sway from side to side in the checkout line of our grocery store. You have the last boo-boos that can be kissed away and the last mouth full of baby teeth. Someday soon I will tuck those teeth under your pillow for a magical fairy to carry away. The same teeth I diligently scrubbed each night with your Star Wars toothbrush. The last first laugh. The last first step. The last of the firsts for our family.
I was never a big fan of the baby stage. I worried about illness and SIDS. I loathed the sleepless nights. I struggled with the constant attention an infant requires, all while working full-time and raising your siblings. I longed for the days where you were more independent, more self-sufficient. When we could talk and read and play.
Now, in the blink of an eye, you are 4 years old. We were taking a bubble bath the other night and you stood up so I could wash you. You are getting so tall now; your gorgeous potbelly has nearly vanished — the belly I have kissed a million times. There are almost no signs of the baby you once were. As I was getting you dressed, I dug into the back of the cupboard. I lathered you in powder-fresh scented baby lotion and breathed you in; thankful you allowed me a minute before you squirmed out of my grasp.
You’ve started saying words correctly. Words you adorably mispronounced for years. Though your favorite color is still “pajento,” a far superior version of magenta, you can now confidently tell us when it’s time for us to “leave” instead of “weave” a restaurant. For what it’s worth, I liked weaving a whole lot more.
Parenting is unyielding, at times boring and draining and maddening. But it is also magical. I have stared collectively at my children’s faces for what seems like decades and never tire of their reflection. I really do know how lucky I am for being permitted the opportunity to be a mother. Their mother.
So, I am going to take time to cry over your pre-K graduation ceremony (and then laugh that there is such a thing) and the loss of your baby fat. I’m going to hang onto your footed pajamas and tie your shoes for you just a little while longer. I’m going to take the time at the end of a very long day to read you another book before you drift off to sleep.
There are moments, too, that I will curse myself for wishing your baby years away. I’m going to give myself the room I need to mourn the end of an era. I will be gentle and try not to beat myself up because I know, as much as any other parent, how truly incomprehensible this ride can be.More On