My days of being a mother of a baby are behind me. I'm not altogether thrilled with this reality.
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I will be the first to admit I miss having a tiny baby to cuddle and snuggle and swaddle. Babies are fun. They're supposed to be.
But they're also a lot of work and worry. For us, there were the endless diapers, the formula that was a necessary evil to supplement a low breastmilk supply, breast pumping during an already-stressful return to work. And the list doesn't end there — worry about childcare, product recalls, overfeeding, underfeeding, SIDS, and on and on. How did I do it, I've wondered more than once.
As she approaches the age of 2, she is way too grown up for her high chairs, and booster seats are passé. She prefers to "sit on Mommy's lap" for meals, which means more mess, fewer morsels for me. A new diet plan for the busy mom? Perhaps.
She likes to watch "Sesame Street," but doesn't like to view it when Mommy is out of sight. Yes, I get tired of it, but for me it's kind of like her preference to sit on my lap to eat. How long is this going to last? Seriously. There will probably be times when she doesn't want to watch TV or eat with me at all, so how can I complain about her wanting to spend as much time as possible with me, as closely as she can?
As for her impending independence, I am torn. The thought of her going to school each day, riding a school bus, participating in organized sports and academic activities doesn't sound like fun times for me. I like her home, or at least with me as much as possible. I know she will grow up and be her own person, and I imagine that someday I will be OK with that.
She is already a good communicator, telling me when she's cold, hot, hungry, tired or has a boo-boo. This is a huge relief to me as a mother. While I had a good parent's intuition, she still couldn't express herself to me and other caregivers as a newborn like she can now.
I prided myself during pregnancy and when toting an infant and running into friends from school who lamented that their children were tweens or even teenagers. Many of them told me that when they were having babies, they just wanted their kids to grow up. Now they wish they were babies again.
Luckily, because my blessing came when I was 10 or more years older than these women were when they became parents, I was also blessed with the ability to be patient and reflective in a way that only an extra decade of living could afford.
I tear up as I pack up long-outgrown onesies and baby shoes, but I never stop being thankful for having a healthy, developing daughter. She is beautiful, intelligent, articulate and strong-willed. She can communicate, but she isn't argumentative. She likes to make her own decisions, but wants Mommy along every step of the way. And I couldn't be happier to be beside her as together we navigate our sometimes rocky, always unpredictable mother-child path.
Amy Dulebohn is a page designer and feature writer at The Herald-Mail. Her email address is email@example.com.