Thursday, April 3, 2008

Growing, growing...gone

Going into my fourth, and decidedly final, pregnancy, I worried about how I would handle what I call "the end of an era". I feared that I would reach a total meltdown, knowing full well that each milestone Dori reached, it would be the last time I would experience it with a child of my own. When I held her after birth, when she latched on to my right (yes I remember that) breast for her first meal, I was aware of the fact that I would never again hold a baby in its first minutes of life (unless, of course, I become a midwife, or doula, or am present for someone else's birth-but it's not the same). It's all kind of exhausting to think about.
Surprisingly, I've been taking it well. While I was pregnant, I asked my friend Deb, who has five kids, how she felt after she had her last. Since she got her tubes tied, I knew she didn't plan on having any more. "You get over it" she told me. "Yeah, it's sad sometimes, but you just have to get used to enjoying them where they are". Well said. And I do have to say, I have been savoring every moment.

However, the other day I just started to feel...old? Maybe? Well, not so much old, but a feeling as if my children are getting away from me. I don't know if it's Palmer's fast-approaching 10th (!) birthday, or the first bag of NB/0-3 months clothes I pulled and bagged from Dori's funky, home-made changing table/bereau, but something just hit me. Kids grow. We all know that. They outgrow their clothes, learn to walk and talk, start school...but as they do, you lose a little bit of who they were.

Take Palmer for instance. I remember his first four years as an only child. With each passing year, heck, every month, I would exclaim to anyone who would listen "This is the best age!". And I still believe that. It was my first time to experience these phases, and I loved them all. He went from snuggly baby, to bright toddler, to inquisitive preschooler, to this person he is now. Some people say of a long night: "It seemed like ten years!". Well, how about 10 years seeming like one night! He no longer posseses all the traits he was known for as a wee one. And it's not a bad thing: he's a math wiz, a talented artist, a strong athlete and a hard-working musician. (Reading is not his forte, but I'll accept is dislike of books for the interest he has in teaching himself to play the guitar). But little "P", well, he's left the building. And soon, this boy will be a man, and the child will be lost forever.

I see it in all my kids. There are advantages and disadvantages to having well-spaced children. So, although many think I'm nuts for spacing my children over the course of a decade, I get to enjoy each phase, one at a time, from each child. While Aidan is turning into a young man like Palmer, I see so much of both my older boys in Logan. He's far more headstrong than they were, but he also shows so much of their signature toddler behaviors.
Dori is a different story. As she grows, not only do I know that it will be our last baby/toddler/preschool experience, but it will also be our first with a girl. All those wonderful boy moments ended with Logan. Now I'm playing with a whole new deck of cards. And this one's missing the Jacks and Kings. Raising a girl will be so different. What if I love it so much that I want more? This time, I have little to look back on for comparison. I have Power Rangers, dinosaurs, and potty jokes embedded in my memory. Now I'm in a new world where fairies and princesses will be replaced with Hannah Montana (or rather, her successor) and fashion as she grows. But that's where I am. And all I can savor each moment.

So as I laid on the couch this morning, with my baby girl sleeping on my chest, I did just that. And I'll get over having to give away her clothes, because after all...
"This is the best age!"