Baby Fever

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how happy I am that my kids aren’t babies anymore. 

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE babies, and I loved my kids being babies. My Mom always said that my mothering instinct was so strong, I rocked my baby dolls before I could talk. 

My heart (and my ovaries) are tugged on pretty hard when I walk by the newborn sized clothes in the store, when I hold someone else’s baby and sneak a smell on the top of their head; someone needs to figure out how to bottle that smell; and every time I go to pack their clothes away to pull out the next size for the next season, I cry. Every single time. The clothes look so big when you first pull them out, and in such a short amount of time, they look so small. 

The other day I packed away clothes that Blakely has outgrown.. clothes that Porter wore when Blake came home from the hospital. I wasn’t ready for that. 

They grow fast. Even faster than when people tell you they’ll grow fast. 

And it’s true what they say – the days are slow but the years are short.

I’ve been remembering lately in a bubble of ease, how hard things were when Porter was a baby. And when Porter was freshly 3 and Blakely was just born. 

You live in a fog for a while, a constant state of survival mode. 

The sleep that’s divided by two hours, up for one in between at the very least, for a year or more. 

The breastfeeding that’s a job on its own. Every two hours at the minimum, and if they don’t – you pump. A constant eye on supply. If it was 5 oz last time, but 4 this time; is my supply dropping? Chug water. Eat oats. Order supplements. It’s my job. That’s all they eat. I have to keep it up. I can’t really go anywhere.

Healing from birthing one human while the other still needs help with everything they do. 

The postpartum hormones are so strong they change your brain chemistry, and some days you’re just along for the ride. 

The regressions that seem to be every month. Teething. Colic. Cries that you have to decipher. Are they hungry? Hot? Cold? Do they have a food sensitivity that got through my milk? Is it a tag? A button? Constantly moving to figure out how to keep them content, which position they like best that day. 

They tell you all of this. Everyone does. How hard, how tired, how rough, how consuming. 

There’s so much incredibleness intertwined, but if I’m being honest, I remember the hardness just the same. It was big. 

And you continue to hear about how hard it’ll be. Wait till the terrible twos. The threenagers. 

“You just wait.” And intertwined with the good is the hard, just like they said. 

But I feel like after you hear about the three year old attitude, they don’t say much anymore. 

“Enjoy it. It goes fast. What grade are they in? How’s school? 

Just wait until they go to college.”

There’s a gap of time where nothing is said, maybe until you’re warned about their teenage attitude. 

But from 4-13… nothing.  

I hear a lot about how we have 18 summers with our kids, so we better make the most of them. I refuse to believe that life is hard for 4-5 years, they go to school, and then our time with them expires. Refuse it. 

I’ll always be their Mom. They’ll always be my girls. I’ll always worry, nurture, help. I’ll always want to exist alongside them, just as I do now. 

My job right now, in this gap, is forming that relationship with them where they’ll want to exist alongside me, too. Where I’m a home to them that they’ll always run to, not from. 

I’m finding that just like most of the things in the world we live in, people are quick to suggest what’s hard. Negative. Rough. Consuming. 

I’m discovering, in this bubble of ease, that I didn’t realize how much I would love the older ages, because no one told me I would. 

That’s not what ‘they’ do. 

It’s been wildly hard for years and years until suddenly.. it was wildly enjoyable. 

Magic, even. 

In the gap no one offered advice in..

We sit around the dinner table and have full conversations with them. We play games of ‘would you rather pick this or that’, talk about school, tell jokes, while they finally eat things other than just chicken nuggets. 

We wash hair in the bath with no tears. 

We build Lego sets.

We go to the playground where I can sit on the bench and watch them play together. 

They make up games together in the playroom. They build forts. Draw pictures. 

They bring me “I love you” letters, and pictures that they hang on the fridge themselves. 

Porter reads bedtime stories to us. She asks to do her homework alone. 

If we sing bedtime songs, they sing, too. Every word. 

They have gotten so. incredibly. good with their manners, communication, apologizing, patience.. because you’ve taught them, and it’s stuck. 

Today, Porter answered me with a bit of an attitude and a minute later said, “I’m sorry for my tone. I was frustrated.” I hadn’t said a word about it. 

Blake saw someone be rude on a show and said, “Why is she so cranky? She sure does need a hug!”

No more deciphering. No more tantrums. No more sleep deprived nights. No diapers, diaper bags, high chairs, pacis. No playpens, choking hazards, teething toys, carseat scream sessions.

A piece of all that breaks my heart, no matter how hard it was, because of how long ago it seems we did need all of that, how long ago they were babies. But the bigger piece of me loves it. 

I can shower with ease. The house stays cleaner. I get to go to the gym every day (even if they don’t like it). They play at my parents’ house so I can grab groceries. 

They ask to play outside. They paint when they’re bored. They help me cook. Crack the eggs. They ask big, intelligent, sometimes hard to answer questions that make me really have to think.

They have their own personalities and senses of humor that have me laughing constantly. 

They grew with magic. 

If I’m being honest, I’ll probably always have baby fever. There’s something about that newborn scrunchy stretch that they do when you pick them up and that still kills me every time I see a baby do it. But I don’t have baby fever because I want another baby, I feel it because a piece of me misses my girls as babies. 

But I never knew how much I’d adore this age. How much I could breathe in it. How much fun they’d be. How with every year older they turn, my heart doubles. 

It’s nice not to be in survival mode while chasing after them, but to be living alongside them. To be invited into their magic. 

Looking back, I feel like I was a baby when I had Porter.. I was barely 22. We grew up together, really. There’s a period when you grow up with your baby where you lose yourself because ALL of you is new. But in this period of blank advice is where you find you. Because of them, with them, for them. 

It’s as hard as they say, and it’s better than they say. 

Having kids is hearing a lot of “just wait..”

You just wait.

Just wait for them to say, “Mama, I love you THIS big,” and stand on their tippy toes to show you how much. You know they understand it, and you know they mean it. 

Just wait for that smile sprint they do to your car at the end of a school day, excited to be reunited with you. 

Just wait for the hugs they initiate that they hold for a noticeably long time. 

You just wait. 

For all the things they didn’t tell you to just wait for. 

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