When we were deciding if we were going to be done having kids, my aunt told me something profound. She said, “No matter when you stop, whether it’s four or ten, you’re always going to grieve the end of a season.” Her words helped me make peace with my youngest being our grand finale.
For the next couple years, I didn’t grieve. Not really anyway. I was still nursing and diaper changing and hiding in the bathroom with chocolate. The idea that we were done held a certain excitement to it. That season was over, that chapter was closed, my body was just mine and no one else’s. I was never going to go through labor again, or leak milk on my dress, or hear phantom crying in the shower (spoiler alert, that last one never goes away).
I think it was probably when she stopped crawling or maybe when she didn’t need the stroller anymore. Maybe it was when she stopped climbing into my bed in the middle of the night or maybe it was when she started saying “about that” instead of “bout dat”. That’s when the grief started hitting me in waves.
The day she walked into kindergarten I melted into myself. The pain was tangible. Every milestone my youngest hits I am acutely aware of how quickly time is passing me by. When she started reading, I envisioned her interviewing for her first job. When she walked out of her last day of first grade, I pictured her walking the platform and receiving her degree.
I don’t know if I regret being done, I just know I long to go back. I long to feel a baby kick even though I never really felt like myself when I was pregnant. I ache to wake to midnight cries and smell their newborn skin, even though at the time I felt like I was losing my mind.
I miss diapers and nap times and pudgy little hands wrapped in mine and I miss now like it’s already over.Maybe someday it gets easier, I don’t really know. I think my aunt is right that even if I had four more I’d still grieve being done. Today is one of those days though when I ache. I miss what’s past and I already miss what’s present. I already miss pouring bowls of cereal and Saturday morning cartoons. I already miss their bed heads and hello kitty pajamas. I guess that’s motherhood right? Beauty and pain wrapped up in the most precious gift.