I get it, Chaunie. I really do. I have seven biological children under my roof right now. Clearly, I loved having babies.
Not the pregnancy part so much, but the babies part, for sure.
For the first ten years of our marriage, we were literally pregnant or caring for a baby at all times. It was so hard to imagine what life would be like without diapers, and a little body next to me at night, surreptitiously nursing. Again.
I felt all the things you talked about in your piece. Even when I was really sure I was done, I dreaded it at the same time.
It was so many things. It felt like the end of an era to truly be done. To take those permanent steps to ensure that my husband and I would never again conceive. It meant the end of my reproductive career. The end of nights spent with the TV on, trying to get a newborn latched on properly, or staring at a sleeping baby, knowing that this phase wouldn't last long. It meant that I was one step closer to children who wouldn't be children, and would find new lives apart from me.
I could hardly imagine it.
But, Chaunie, as someone who's a step closer than you are (my youngest is 3 now), let me tell you: it's okay.
That sounds dismissive. Sorry, I don't mean it that way. But seriously, it's not as bad as I'd feared.
They're growing up, yes. But it turns out that I haven't found an age I haven't liked. I find as much fascinating about watching my 17 year old find his path, than my 3 year old.
They still love me, too. Biggest to smallest, I don't make them happy all the time, but my deep love for them has forged a bond between us, that hasn't stopped as they've gotten older, but only deepened and grown.
I have had a child in diapers for 17 years. I had a one year break 13 years ago, but other than that, I have had one or more kids in diapers for a ridiculously long time. I see the light at the end of the tunnel on that one, Chaunie, and it's a beautiful thing. No one misses butt wiping. I'm pretty sure.
Holding your newborns in your arms, is definitely the best part of your life, right now. But let me just promise you that it's also the best time when they ride their first bike, lose their first tooth, and even start High School. I'm looking forward to someday watching them get married.
And then, I'm betting the next best part of my life will be holding my grandchildren in my arms and shoving my kids out the door for date night, so grandma can have baby alone time with another generation.
Watching them grow up isn't leaving something behind. It's just the start of something. They will go with you on the best adventure you can imagine. You're their Mom. You are the great boo boo kisser, monster chaser, and toy fixer. One day you will be the advice giver, and possessor of great wisdom. After that, you will ultimately be a friend, too.
You have no choice but to take the adventure, Chaunie, so I say embrace it. Which isn't to say that I don't understand your fear, I do. But honestly, it's not so bad out here. There are margaritas out here. Real ones.
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