Friday, 11 March 2016

The Last Child

Remember that time I used to write stories about my kid all the time, but then Liam came along and I didn't even have time to brush my teeth most days, let alone talk about it?


Anyway, here I am, mother of two. In possession of a complete family. Even the dog. And I've figured a few things out in my absence, let me tell you. The most enormous lesson of all being that you do not appreciate being a mother until you have your last baby.

Deep. I know.

Today Liam had a late nap and so he slept until 4, when I snuck in his room and rubbed his little back until he opened his eyes and smiled at me. Given the fact that he is usually the one waking me from my slumber, getting to wake him up every once in a while feels like a treat. I also do it gently to help teach him how to properly wake someone. I don't go in there screaming and wailing for a bottle with a sagging diaper and my hair matted to my head with dried milk. Just for the record. I wake him the way people should be arisen. Thus far, in his two and a half years, he hasn't caught on.

Anyway, because he had a late nap, he had a little trouble falling to sleep tonight. Usually we do bath, 15 stories by Sandra Boynton (our fav), and then bottle, Gankey (blankie) and bed. Tonight he got the usual, plus he loudly serenaded himself with Jingle Bells in his crib, then recited Barnyard Dance, and still was not able to doze off, so he resorted to crying. Even though the bugger still doesn't sleep, I still haven't let him cry it out, and I wasn't about to start tonight, so in I went. I picked up his solid, chubby little body and headed to the rocking chair.

At the age that he is, a quiet cuddle is rare these days. He snuggled in my arms tonight, rubbed my chest and face with his dimpled little hand, and went limp with relaxation and comfort. I watched his long eyelashes start to fall to his fat cheeks, and his breathing settle. How was I supposed to put him back in his crib now?

Liam's "big boy bed" is in. In a few days, my uncle will bring it to our house, and we will set it up in his room, and there won't be enough space for his rocking chair any more. Tonight this feeling came crashing over me; What if this is the last time I rock him to sleep?

Liam is our last baby. This is the last time we will have a busy toddler destroying our house. When he starts to sleep, we will never get up with a baby again. When we take the crib down, we will never need it again. We put his high chair away for good today. Everything we did with Avery was a happy, exciting first. Everything with Liam is the last time.

I remember the day I had him, rubbing my enormous belly that was housing the almost eleven pounder, and knowing that this was it. This was the last day that I would feel this. This was the last time I would hold my own newborn, fresh from the oven. I was painfully aware of the fact that time was slipping through my fingers. When did Avery become so independent? Where did the last nine months go? Did I appreciate my time as a mother of one enough? Did she know how much I loved her before she had to start sharing her life with another little human in the house? I never thought about it until it was time to have the last baby.

Her time as an only child was a blur. I couldn't appreciate how small she was because I had nothing to compare her to. I had crippling guilt over losing my patience with her about things that I can now see she just didn't understand at the time. Having the last baby put the first into perspective. I wish I held her more. I wish I had more patience. I wish I cuddled her more. I watch videos of her with her wild hair and her sweet baby voice, and know that I didn't realize at the time how fast she was growing. And yet I look at her now, and I think that we must have done a good job, because she's the sweetest little four year old. She's kind and compassionate. She loves her brother, her dog, her friends. She loves to dance, she loves gymnastics, she loves to paint and colour. Her imagination is amazing and so broad and wide that it seems all consuming at times. This child does not live in this world. She is in a constant state of pretend, and neither of us can bear to tell her different. Although at 6am when she skips into our room announcing that she is Princess Leia today, and we need to go downstairs immediately because she needs to find Luke and Chewbacca and bla bla bla because she talks at the speed of light, it can be hard to not snap her back to reality until at least 8. This is the last time she will be 4. Liam helps us appreciate that this will not be forever.

I feel like if my life was illustrated on a timeline, you would see my fingernail marks digging in at Liam's birth and just dragging ten little lines until the present day. I'm at this awful place where I feel complete with two kids, and as a family we are happy and ready for the next stage and to finally come out of Survival Mode (you all know this is the reality when you have very small children), yet I don't want my children to grow any further then where they are at this moment.

I would still be in that rocking chair with him sleeping in my arms, maybe for the last time, if I didn't have to empty the dishwasher, and put away the clean towels, and let the dog out, and just do the general, everyday things that make you forget that your little people are growing up and you can't do anything about it. And I know tomorrow morning, when I'm up at 5:45, trying to referee the kids in our bed so that I can get another hour of sleep before pouring up the biggest cup of coffee I can fit in my body to give me the energy to fight with the kids about what to have for breakfast, I'll lose sight of the feelings I have right now while they're snuggled in their beds, but hopefully I won't. Hopefully I can hang on to it a little bit while Liam is throwing a tantrum because he pissed all over Gankey in his sleep and it needs to be washed, or Avery is whining to beat the band because she can't wear a f*#king spaghetti strapped summer dress with sandals out in the snow.

And hopefully I can pass it on to the large amount of personal friends I have who have just had, or will soon be having babies. Seriously, a vulgar amount of people I know are calfing or have clafed in the last few weeks. I have a very fertile social circle. Perhaps had Avery not snuck past the goalie, I'd only be on my first bambino now with them all. But hang on to these days. Even when you hate your kid and you hate your life (seriously, this will come if it hasn't already), know that it isn't forever. And one day, you really will miss being up with your baby in the middle of the night, the only two in the whole world. Eventually it will be the last day of your horrible, nausea and constipation and exhaustion filled pregnancy, and then it will be the last day you are up at night. There will be a last diaper. A last everything. And it is SO easy to wish these days away. I did it. Everyone does. But try not to, because one day you'll sleep all night and have no bums to change and no rocking chairs, and you'll know how good it was to have a chubby little hand rubbing your chest, that is coming from a little body that didn't want to go to sleep yet, and just wanted their mom.


Gillian Marx said...

Yep, and I look at my two young men and miss my babies still. But I will say, there is nothing quite like to hug from you big boy who towers over and really does still need his mom. Well done Lauren!!

Rae said...

This was a beautiful thing to read. I have 6 month old twins, a 2.5 year old and a 4 year old. With allllllll that going on sometimes I forget how quickly time went, from 1st baby to competent 4 year old. Thanks for the reminder.