We’re heading towards the end of the school year here. We have three weeks left, and then it’s summer vacation. Before you know it, it’ll be September and I’ll have a 5-year-old in kindergarten and a 3-year-old starting preschool. I think it’s officially the end of the baby era.
On the one hand, it’s been five long years of middle-of-the-night wakings, dirty diapers, breastfeeding, spitting up, learning to walk, learning to talk, and generally just keeping them alive. Sometimes it seems like each day drags on and I can’t wait to have both kids in underwear. I dream of the day when I no longer have to police their bottoms and hands. I can’t wait to live with people who can pick out matching and seasonally appropriate clothing for themselves and get their own damn bananas for a snack.
But then it seems like it can’t possibly be over already. That’s it? No more oohing over a cute fluffy butt or eagerly anticipating fluff mail? No more baby rolls to tickle and snuggle? No more wispy, sweaty hair pressed up against my cheek at night? No more tiny little toes to kiss, one by one, as they go to market and eat roast beef and do all sorts of improbable things?
Throughout my twenties I never really thought about having kids. I was busy with graduate school, my career, and having fun. I had a series of on and off again relationships, none of them with partners I considered to be husband, let alone father material. I certainly wasn’t in any kind of rush; I had lots of time.
Even when things got serious between hubby and me, I was still kind of ambivalent. We got married, and I was still focused on just enjoying our lives together. I think it was right around 31 that suddenly every baby I saw, every ultrasound on Facebook, every time I heard about another friend getting pregnant, evoked an overwhelming desire to magnify our love and grow our family. I was 33 when my first beautiful girl was born, and 35 when my youngest came along.
I feel like a lot of things were put on hold when our girls were born, especially for me when I quit my job to stay home with them. I don’t have any regrets though. It was the right decision for me. I love that I was able to witness their first words, their first steps, and all their other firsts. I don’t regret the lost sleep and the extra pounds. Motherhood has taught me more about myself and my character than everything that came before.
But now that I have a newly minted five-year-old and a two-going-on-three-year-old, I’m ready to move on. I’m ready to make plans for next year without a backup in-case-I’m-pregnant plan. I’m ready to sleep through the night and sleep in on the weekends. I’m ready to go travelling with my family and maybe even enjoy a weekend away just with hubby. I’m ready to trade in nursing and diaper changes for school pageants and karate classes, the crib for some glorious space and privacy in my own bedroom, and clingy toddler tantrums for independent play outside.
I’m done. Absolutely, positively done. Our family is complete. It’s time to give away all those baby clothes and pass along the baby gear. It’s time to talk about more permanent methods of birth control.
But then I see your newborn baby in my Facebook feed and I start rethinking my decision all over again.