I am finished having babies.
I will never again have another baby.
My childbearing years are over.
No matter which way I phrase it, the concept still hasn't stuck.
This notion isn't new. It's not something I just heard from my doctor; bad news that was thrust upon me at a vulnerable hour. No, this decision was chosen. While pregnant with my third child, we decided this. A tubal ligation after my final cesarean section was the quickest and easiest way. The most permanent way. The right choice.
We couldn't handle four kids, I'm barely there with three kids. Ending my ability to have children just made sense.
Maybe that's why I'm surprised by how sad I am now.
There is nothing easy about raising three children. Often, I'm just spinning in place, clocking the minutes until the next nap time, the next mealtime, the next carpool, the next bath, the next book, the next bed. “Holy shit, Daddy won't be home for another hour?” The clock is my best friend and my worst enemy. When I reflect on this, I know… if three kids is crazy, four kids is enough for a padded room. My brain knows.
But my heart?
Yeah, heart is having a much more difficult time with the circumstances.
My youngest is 10-months-old and he's gigantic. Technically, he's still a baby but his sheer size has landed him in the toddler zone, which has kicked my sorrow into high gear. I didn't realize I was holding onto this baby notion until our last visit to the pediatrician. The doctor I've known for 10 years took one look at my ginormous “baby” in his baby car seat and uttered, “We need to have a come to Jesus talk.” Shit. The jig is up. At 30 pounds, I had to stop treating my “baby” like a baby.
No more baby bucket, no more baby food, I needed to stop “babying” him, and I finally did. Not surprisingly, he handled the transition as if he'd been waiting for this moment forever. I watched him inhale an animal cracker this morning at Mommy & Me, no longer giving him the baby puffs. His eyes looked up at me as if to say, “Thank you. Thank you for trusting I'm ready to be big, Mommy.” And my brain was proud of me and my heart wanted to punch my face.
I'd always been amazing at recognizing the cues my children were giving me. Until now. My baby has been attempting to clue me in for months, but I didn't want to see it. The blinders were up. Tunnel vision in its most honest form, the form of a mama who can't let go. A mama who doesn't want her babies to grow up. Especially this baby, because he is the last one.
I can't be that Mama.
Children need to be trusted (to a point) that they are ready for the next step. Sure, they are going to try and fail, and climb and fall, but I'll always be there to tell them, “You'll get it next time,” and kiss their boo boos and shower them with cuddles.
But first I have to let go…
Giving them just enough room to have independence, while near enough that they know I'm still here.