Do you guys know today’s guest poster Tracey Schaefer? If not, you should. She’s a self-proclaimed mommy Jekyll and Hyde, taking care of her two boys by day and bitching about it at night! I’m guessing most of us can relate to that feeling, especially those of us surrounded by hoards of boys. She is hilarious and talented, but today she is speaking from the heart about what it feels like to realize that your boys aren’t babies anymore. My oldest is going to kindergarten this fall and this piece hit me right in the feels. Enjoy.
I don’t have a baby anymore.
I’ve had one for about five years, so the moment that I realized I didn’t have one anymore was jarring. I was watching my four-year-old’s pre-K graduation ceremony, clutching my two-and-half-year-old in my lap. The moment the slideshow began and the lyrics to Trace Adkins’ “You’re Gonna Miss This” drifted into my consciousness, it hit me. I dabbed at unexpected tears.
Exceptionally tall and generally mild-mannered, my preschooler lined up with his classmates, performed a series of songs in cap and gown, and accepted his “diploma” with a maturity that astonished me.
He is not a baby anymore.
I see a young mother a few rows ahead of me, cradling a fuzzy-haired infant who is starting to doze. Another nearby family proudly shows off their weeks-old newborn, snuggled in his carseat, peacefully gnawing on a Soothie pacifier.
It is the same type of pacifier that my firstborn loved when he was tiny, I think.
But he is not tiny anymore, and I am not these mothers anymore.
My younger son is still happily in diapers. He still sleeps in his crib. His room is still decorated in the same Winnie the Pooh nursery theme that it was when I brought him home. I hope it remains this way as long as he will allow it.
Soon, he won’t be a baby anymore, either. In fact, he has come to enjoy rejecting the notion. “I am NOT baby,” he says stubbornly.
I wonder what will happen to the wooden rocking chair that still sits in his room. I bought it when I was single and living in California. I lovingly handpainted its unfinished pine, not knowing how often I would nurse, rock and read to two babies in it years later. We will find a place for it somewhere in the house, I assure myself, when my baby doesn’t want to be a baby anymore.
My younger one says “Mommy, carry!” a lot, and while I sometimes sigh, exasperated, or grumble about the burden, I know he won’t want this much longer. I scoop him up, hold him tight, and nuzzle his doughy cheek, still soft as a lamb’s ear.
My sons eat table food. They sleep through the night in their own beds. They don’t need swaddling, burping or rocking. Their mobiles and bottles and onesies and Sophie the Giraffes are long gone. Soon, the crib will go and the diapers, too.
I tell myself every woman who has had babies feels this way. Every mother, at some bittersweet point, realizes she doesn’t have babies anymore.
Today, this realization is making me sad.
Tomorrow, I will wake up. I will let my older son help prepare his breakfast while we sing silly rhyming songs. He will remind me not to forget the yogurt and apple I bring to work. He will laugh at my jokes. He will give me a bear hug that only a big boy – not a baby – can give. Meanwhile, his little brother will help – to pour his juice, put away his socks, and throw his wrapper in the trash.
My boys are not babies anymore. Neither is their mother. And that is a beautiful thing.
Tracey Schaefer clings to her sanity in the D.C. suburbs while taking care of her husband and two active sons. Find her “Spit Up, Meltdowns and Blowouts” blog on Facebook