My daughter, known around here as “Monkey,”
at the age of 18 months. A long time ago. She
had attempted to dress herself, with limited success.
I’ve given away all the baby bottles, the port-a-crib, and the sippy cups. The maternity clothes are long gone, given to friends and acquaintances and anyone who would take them.
I no longer have to get up several times per night to prepare formula or to change a diaper. I can’t remember the last time I had to drag myself awake so I could comfort a crying child.
My clothes are no longer covered in spit-up or finger paint, and my kitchen is finally free of the small play-doh dots that used to be found in every corner. There are no tricycles in my driveway, no matchbox cars in my living room, and no legos stuck in the vacuum cleaner.
We no longer have to be quiet in order to let my daughter’s baby-dolls “seep” (she couldn’t pronounce “sleep”) and no one has a melt down if we leave the house without their special pillow. We can take long car trips without bringing every toy we own, and all we need for entertainment on airplane rides is a reasonable selection of books.
Now that everyone in my household is old enough to stay home alone, I am able to go to the supermarket without kids in tow. I can even go out for a walk or to an evening appointment without struggling to find a babysitter. If I’m a few minutes late from work, there will be no day-care-worker to stare me down and charge me extra.
I love my kids, of course, and I adore talking to them about all kinds of topics. Their perspectives are fascinating to me, and they have very interesting opinions. Between us, Tiger (as my boyfriend is known around here) and I have 7 kids. No, that’s not a typo, it’s the number seven. The kids range in age from 10 to 26. And I adore them all.
So why, why do I still sometimes find myself longing for that new baby smell? Or dreaming of a small moist bundle of baby? Or wistfully recalling the wonder of a sweet baby’s smile? When I see young mothers with their toddlers who talk non-stop and touch every item in sight, why do I find tears in my eyes?