Bye-Bye Babyhood

“We’d like to move Sophia into the downstairs class next week. She’s been doing really well and she’s ready,” said the daycare owner.

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.”


  1. says

    Such a beautiful post and so very very true. My Diego is now 3 and a half and I am really sad that we are moving out of babyland forever. I mean, sure it's nice to not have to wipe butts all day long, but I'm gonna miss those baby cheeks and stroller days so much when they are gone.

  2. says

    This reminds me of the time when we brought home our first little girl! I cried all the way home from the hospital because I almost didn’t want to take her home. I knew she would grow up quickly and then leave us and it was too much for my heart to take. The love you develop for your baby is instant, unconditional and enduring! Enjoy each little moment–they really do fly by! Thanks for sharing.

  3. says

    A very sweet, and truth-ringing post. My oldest is 4 and I still look at her and see the tiny baby she was. I can’t believe what she has turned into in such a short time. It definitely goes by to fast.

    • kvalentini says

      I know Angie. When I do the last, bedtime check of the night – tucking in and turning off lights – I stare at my soon to be four-year-old sleeping and try to envision that same face, smaller and tucked into a swaddle. It seems so long ago and it’s harder and harder to remember what she looked like a newborn. Sigh.

  4. says

    I’m a writer, too. I write books of humorous essays, and I’ve gotten LOTS of material from my children along the way. I have a new book coming out called I’ve Had It Up To Here With Teenagers this spring. I enjoyed reading your posts because they remind me of some of the best moments of those early blurry years!

  5. says

    I am feeling just like you at the moment. I am highly emotional over anything and everything lately. I had kindergarten orientation (yes, ridiculously early) for my four year old last week and it’s very bittersweet. I’m one of the few moms there wishing it was half day kindergarten opposed to the full day it is. It’s really hard letting go. Loved this post.

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