“Bye Bye Baby”

My little Avery,

When I was pregnant with you, people told me all sorts of things I could expect after becoming a mother. They said I’d never sleep well again, toys would take over my entire house, and my body would probably never go back to exactly the way it was before. They were right on all accounts.

But no one told me about one of motherhood’s toughest underlying themes. They probably didn’t bring it up because it’s just so hard to put into words. If I had to attach one word to the way I’ve been feeling lately, that word would be conflicted. You’re getting bigger by the second, right in front of my eyes. And the truth is, nothing would make me happier than seeing you grow into an independent, kind, happy adult. That is every parent’s goal. Don’t screw them up, and make sure you create decent, loving human beings. After all, this world really needs more of them.

But … I’d be lying if I told you that the idea of you staying little, just as you are now, isn’t also appealing. Obviously, it’s selfish of me. Why shouldn’t you get the chance to grow and develop and become your own person? But sometimes, in those moments where I’m alone with my thoughts and allowed to be selfish in them for one second, I think of how nice it would be to get to watch you toddle around the house for the rest of my life, hair in a ponytail on the top of your head, and food spilled on your shirt. The idea that we could just stay here, in this moment in our family’s journey, forever and ever, is an idea that makes me happy. You would always need me the way you do now, which would mean my sense of purpose would never falter.

How secretly joyful would I be if I got to hold you and cuddle with you every night until the end of my days? I would love it. But I truly also love the person you’re becoming and can’t wait to see the things you do and the ways in which you choose to give back to this world. So, yeah, I walk around in this constant state of conflict. And I just know I can’t be the only parent out there who feels this way, this need to keep you in one place and slow down time, but also this need to teach you and love you and try to give you the tools you’ll need to be a happy and confident woman.

A few nights ago, you were playing with some toys on the floor. The TV was on, but I wasn’t paying attention to it. I was just relaxing and watching you do your thing. I like doing that sometimes. I still just marvel at the fact that you are here. And you are ours. Not only did we somehow end up with a miracle kiddo, but a really inspiring and great one at that. Anyway, you were playing with your favorite toys at the moment, your Anna and Elsa barbie dolls. Man, we take those things everywhere lately. You can’t get enough of them.

But on this night, as I was just observing you and taking it all in, I noticed something different about the way you were playing. See, up until now, you carried the dolls everywhere, held them, cuddled them and constantly changed their shoes. They were just little figures who looked like two of your favorite characters, nothing more. Only this time, there was something more. You had one in each hand, and you were using a little high pitched voice for each of them. One would say something, then the other would respond. In all the babbling, I heard the word “hug” and then watched as you pushed them both together in an embrace and pulled them back apart again. Through your imagination and voice, Elsa sang part of “Let it Go” and Anna sat and listened.

This was new. You’re turning two in a couple of weeks. And for awhile now, you’ve really been looking more like a little girl and less like a baby, physically. You have a wild, full head of hair now. You’re walking everywhere. You have lots of teeth. You’re looking more and more grown up. But this was one of those moments when it hit me just how much you were growing mentally and emotionally. Suddenly, you were writing a mini screen play and making the sisters act it out. It was a beautiful and really tough thing to watch all at the same time. Time is just so, so fleeting.

So anyway, I’m sitting on the couch with all of my thoughts and feelings and kind of choking back tears to be honest. Half of my tears were proud and joyful. And the other half were feeling the loss of my little baby and maybe grieving that loss in some small way. And then I heard Anna say to Elsa, “Baby?” And I watched you put the barbies down, scoot over to your baby doll and bring her over to them. Then Anna and Elsa kissed the baby and talked to the baby for a minute. Then you raised Anna’s little hand and said, “Bye bye baby!” And with one swift motion, you pushed the baby away from where you were playing and continued on with Anna and Elsa.

And my heart hurt just a little because I thought to myself, “I’m not ready to say bye bye to my baby just yet.” And even though we parents want to control time and decide when you’re ready for the next steps, we know we can’t. Time waits for no one, not even broken-hearted mommas. And you, my little wild woman, also wait for no one. You do things at your pace and when you want to do them. I love that. And I hate that. And so, the conflict in my heart continues.

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