I’m a mom of three boys.
At the end of the month, my youngest son, Sunny, will turn 2. His brothers are 4 and 6. On Sunny’s birthday, for the first time in my momhood, I’ll have a 2-year-old … and no baby following behind.
It’s not a great time for us to have another baby, so I should be okay with this.
But I’m not.
This is the first time I’ve had the 2T clothes out without also bringing out the newborn things. Back then, the baby’s clothes were easy to distinguish from his brothers’. Now all of my boys’ clothes tangle together in a knot. They all seem the same, as if they could just all share a wardrobe of Star Wars- and LEGO-themed gear.
I’m not looking for room for another carseat, stocking up on nursing tees, or reading books about “becoming a big brother” over and over. I’m not looking for a sitter for when I’ll be in the hospital giving birth, sniffing a newborn head, or taking pictures of brothers “holding” their new baby.
Sure, we’ve still got Baby Sunny, the baby of the family, but now he can say “Scooby Doo.”
I know, I seem addicted to babies and having kids.
After all, three kids in under four years is a lot. It’s constant chaos. My house looks like a toy dinosaur-fueled tornado has run through it. I used to nurse the baby while yelling at the other two to stop hitting each other for the love of all that’s holy. Every trip involved buckling in the baby while praying the older two didn’t try to drive the minivan to China.
Two years apart is hard.
Two years apart twice is harder.
Two years apart three times would be batty.
I know that. But I don’t care.
Two years is a good gap. A doable gap. The older kid is young enough that he doesn’t quite know what’s going on and so he doesn’t act out too badly. As soon as the younger one can walk, they play together quite nicely in fact. My oldest two boys are friends.
I want that for Baby Sunny. But his time has come and gone. He won’t have a brother or sister toddling after him a year from now. I feel that loss for him, even if he never will.
I also feel the loss for myself. For the first time in six years, I’m no longer the mama of a small baby. It’s not as easy, this having a toddler business. I don’t have that automatic bond with moms on the playground.
“How old is your baby?” they used to ask. “How is his older brother taking it?” they’d wonder.
Now, we don’t fall easily into the conversation of nursing and sleeping, solids and diapers. Instead, moms glare sidewise at my whirling toddler, afraid he’ll hurt their tiny one.
I don’t spend my time taking in the intoxicating smell of newborn heads or wrapping a small, cuddly baby. My 2-year-old kicks now, though he still asks to go up. He nurses for comfort, not need. And though he can be very persistent about wanting to breastfeed, it’s not the same as nursing a small baby. Sometimes I say no. Sometimes he does gymnastics in my lap while latched on. We don’t cuddle the same way as we did when he was a little baby.
I can leave Sunny for hours at a time. We are no longer a unit — no longer a two-for-one package. Dates exclude him. Formal events presume I can leave him with a sitter for a while. There is no tiny creature froggied to my chest over an evening gown. I am not nursing him at meetings, at the movies. We are presumed separate. It’s new to me, this strange autonomy. In some ways, it’s pleasant. In other ways, I miss it.
But mostly I miss that this fall won’t bring us a baby. I’m grateful for the three happy, healthy hellions we have. I know that this isn’t the time to have a baby and truthfully, it’s nice not to be pregnant.
But it’s strange to have a 2-year-old and no baby tagging along behind him. It’s an adjustment — a necessary thing, but a sadness nonetheless.
We love babies, and my older sons would want another just as much as I do. I should be okay with this. And I will be.
But not yet.More On