It is 3:30 AM as we sit here in the dark and I rock your tiny body while you nurse. As you look up at me with those big brown eyes, my exhaustion seems to simply disappear. I cannot look away. Even as you drift off into a peaceful sleep with your tiny tongue poking out, I keep rocking while staring at your beautiful baby face. I too should close my eyes and rest, but oh how quickly these times will pass. You are my 4th and final baby boy so I am determined not to miss a moment as I know your “firsts” will be my “lasts.”
Eight years ago I did the same thing as I began on this journey of motherhood with your oldest brother. Back then as I sat and stared, it was in awe that I had created this incredible being. It literally took my breath away as I experienced feelings I had never even imagined possible.
Upon the birth of my first baby I was saddled with the weight of the world, wondering how I was going to fulfill the needs of this tiny creature. Now, as I hold you in my arms knowing I’ve done this three times before I am more confident and self-assured, but nostalgic.
I am saddened by the knowledge that these moments will end and they will be my last. I am ready to move on, to experience new firsts with you and your brothers, but still reeling from the speed by which this life is passing by…I remember dancing with your Daddy to “Cinderella” at our wedding, the fear, excitement, and apprehension I felt the first time I found out I was pregnant, and the look upon each and every one of your brother’s sweet faces as they met the next.
The saying one does not know love until they become a mother could not be more true. The love I have for others pales in comparison to what I feel for you. The amazing thing is that love multiplies, which seemed so impossible when I held my first son, but came to fruition upon the birth of my second. As I hold you, my fourth, these feelings which only mothers can possibly understand are now simply a part of who I am…
So often as parents we get caught up in the planning, the scheduling, and the worry. We forget to live in the present and try to convince ourselves there is always tomorrow. But if there is anything motherhood has taught me it is that tomorrow will never be the same…where you laid so small and still yesterday will be empty tomorrow as you roll over and lift your head.
Where you tucked in your frog-like legs and cuddled up tight in the night, you will soon kick me as you stretch and yawn into a quickly growing little boy…
Where I first spent hours staring at your long, soft lashes, you now look out at me with big, brown eyes and a smile on that tiny face all in just a matter of weeks…Fast forward just a few months and you’ll be running down the hall laughing and leaving me behind as your brothers do now. Much to my chagrin you will walk faster, talk faster, and be climbing the backyard trees in the blink of an eye, chasing after your older brothers.
We stress over co-sleeping or crib training, bottle or breast feeding, potty training, sleep schedules and all kinds of other things that we try to put on a schedule or a timeline. But babies don’t work on a schedule or a timeline. We know this, yet as parents so many of us are constantly trying to force our babies into the mold society has deemed the right way to raise a child. We are always in fear of judgement from others although we are truly our own worst enemies.
No one questions every parenting decision we make more than ourselves. Because we are scared, because we are unsure, because we don’t want to mess up this tiny human with whom we have been entrusted.
But our babies will be okay. Everything that is meant to happen will in due course.
If there is anything I have learned from your 3 older brothers it is that our babies will grow up and grow out no matter how hard we may try to hold on.
As my husband tried so hard to convince me that if I let the boys sleep in our bed they would never leave, each has in his own time…and much to my chagrin they don’t return. Although I know this is how it is supposed to be, with each baby that sleeps through the night in his big boy bed, I watch a small part of him grow up and I know things have changed. Confident and fearless they move on, secure in the knowledge that I am here if they need me, but brave and bold enough to conquer this next milestone.
Just as I sit rocking you, I sat rocking each of your brothers as he breastfed on demand for years. Again, I never forced any of them to wean; I never withheld the one thing that made them feel secure enough to softly fall asleep trusting that I would keep them safe. But again, each one gave up this blissful bonding time with me as he moved on to bigger and better things…only I was left behind cherishing the memories I’d made with my beautiful baby boys.
With you, my last little love, I promise to appreciate this time even more as I know it is the end of a journey that has lasted nearly a decade. Knowing you will move on healthy and self-assured, no longer needing me for nourishment, sooner rather than later, makes me savor the here and now looking into your eyes, snuggling you to my chest, memorizing the look of your tiny hand upon my breast. These sweet memories will all be locked away forever in my mother’s heart, playing through my mind on instant recall, as I watch you sweetly sleeping as you grow up.
To all the new mamas out there, during these trying times when you feel sad, tired, stressed, worried, scared or angry, just know this too shall pass. For me, a woman who could not wait to be a mother, who loved being pregnant, and who could not have imagined anything other than breastfeeding, co-sleeping, and baby wearing each of her boys, this is the end of an era I will miss.
It came upon me faster than I ever imagined and has passed at lightning speed. I do not feel any older than I did in college, wiser for sure having faced many trials and tribulations, but refusing to become jaded by my experiences. This is where I was meant to be…I was meant to be your mama.
As I sit here in the dark, exhausted and knowing I have to get your brothers up and out the door in just a few hours’ time, I’m not worried about sleep. Never again will I sit in a dark room gazing into the eyes of my brand-new baby, so sleep can wait because I want to hold on to every one of these lasts with you. So I rock, and I sing, and we snuggle because so very soon you will have moved on as you are supposed to.
I will love you forever I will like you for always and as long as I’m living my baby you’ll be. - Robert Munsch
Our children may move out and move on, but a mother's love will never fade. For more on adulting, parenting, and watching our parents grow older all at the same time read one Daily Mom's emotional thoughts on why My Mom Still Colors Easter Eggs with Me.
Photo Credit: Kristen Lee Creative, Kristin dePaula