My parental angst must have visibly surfaced because she quickly followed up with, “Would that be ok with you?”
“Umm, yea,” I nodded in agreement but inside a kernel of dread grew. I knew my first baby was growing up. I could see the daily leaps and bounds. She had been climbing out of her crib for days and had recently informed me that I could break a hip slipping on ice. But I knew that going into a room where no trace of baby fat could be found and gangly growth abounded, would only accelerate her race toward preschooler status.
Despite my trepidation, Monday came and off to the new class we went. As I hung up her coat, Sophia assessed the room’s possibilities and asked, “Mommy, what do you want to play with?”
“I don’t know Sophia. What do you want to play with?” I responded. Sophia looked eagerly from the bin of Legoes, to the girls amassed around a dollhouse, to racks of dress-up clothes. She swiped a pirate hat and plunked it on her head. “Mommy, you want to dress-up?”
“Ahh, Mommy has to go to work. Let’s see what’s going on over here,” I ushered her toward the table of kids slinging markers and contemplating the advantages of one block shape over another.
She slid right into the thick of activity, eyes bright with curiosity – probably wondering about the best way to steal the purple marker from a boy brandishing it as a sword.
My heart pounded with pride as I watched my firstborn weave into the rhythm of this new routine. I thought about what an amazing little person she’s become and patted myself on the back for a job well-done.
I ducked out of the room and into the parking lot. As I thought about my baby growing up, the kernel of dread that had flowered into pride was replaced by a withering sense of loss. I will never get back those three years of her life. Did I enjoy them enough? Did I store up enough memories to last me a lifetime of reminiscing? Did I waste any of that fleeting time?
When I was pregnant with my first, every mom said, “It goes so fast. You have to enjoy it while you can.” Logically, I understood. But, like labor, there’s really no way to relate until you’ve been through it.
Now I can clearly see that what those moms meant was, “You may feel relief to be past midnight wailing, cracked nipples, and diapers but saying bye-bye to babyhood is bittersweet.”