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A Cherished Life Stage Ended Abruptly And My Heart Isn't Ready To Leave

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Kristyn Meyer is on a journey to make herself the best human that she can be. These posts are a reflection of that. She welcomes your support! To stay up to date on all of her shenanigans, please subscribe to her email list! (psst…there’s a free gift involved)

As time ticks closer and closer to my youngest child’s birthday, I find myself feeling every emotion that exists.

This isn’t unusual, for the most part. I tend to get quite sad as the years tick on and another birthday approaches.

But this one is sitting differently. It’s not a milestone birthday or anything, he’s just turning four. But I am finding myself feeling anxious and almost a little bit wistful, even regretful to an extent.

And why? I have been downright privileged these past four years. Not only is my child happy and healthy, but I have also had the ability to quit my full-time job to be more present in his life. I have had more time to spend and bond with him than I did with his sister, who is just a few years older.

And I’m grateful for that, it gives me great joy to have the time to make more memories than I would have been able to.

But yet, four years is catching up to us and I’m feeling more emotional than what is typical. Even picking birthday presents for him is proving difficult. I’m actually getting stressed over it! I have never felt stress as it pertains to picking and choosing gifts for any occasion, but this year it is bringing out this new and different emotion. And in full force!

From what I can pinpoint, it has to do with the ending of one life stage and the entering of another.

Up until about six months ago, we planned on having another child. Therefore making my soon-to-be four-year-old a middle child instead of the youngest. However, when we really sat and thought about it, we weren’t sure that we wanted to have another. We realized that our family felt complete and that we are very fortunate to have healthy children. Never had we experienced a miscarriage or serious pregnancy/birth issues. We are forever grateful that a lot of the family medical issues we were initially concerned about did not appear in our babies.

Those reasons, and several others, weighed in on our decision to not have another. We almost felt like we would be pushing our luck, to an extent. And our family feels so right with just the two littles, we don’t want to change that flow.

But now I find myself thrown into a new life stage that I wasn’t quite prepared for. I’m completely out of the baby stage with no plans to go back. No longer am I buying diapers. Breastfeeding and bottles are long gone. The crib that I took so long picking out has been given away. Baby equipment is collecting dust in storage because we thought we would get one more use out of it and we aren’t, but I can’t bring myself to get rid of it.

I think of all the lasts that I didn’t pay attention to because I didn’t realize it was the last. The final time that I used our Ergo carrier, for instance. I couldn’t even tell you when it was. But now I know that I will never have one of those moments again.

And it weighs heavy on my heart. Had I known that it was going to be my last time, would I have done anything differently? Would I have taken the time to soak it all in? Maybe sit with the feeling of my baby being so close to me, having the easy ability to smell his head and all the baby scents that come with it. Would I have taken a mental photograph of that current moment, knowing that the future would be much different, and coming quicker than what I was ready for?

I will never know.

And as I peruse the internet, looking for a gift to celebrate my baby turning four, I come face to face with all the things I had always thought I would purchase, but didn’t. I struggle with the notion of purchasing a certain toy, knowing that it will get minimal use but will check off an invisible box that I created for myself, or accepting that the time has passed and there’s no reason to do such a thing.

And it’s hard. It sucks a little bit.

It wasn’t that long ago that I was laboriously choosing each and every item for my baby registry. I spent hours pouring over different features and safety ratings to choose just the right items. And now those things are put away, never to be used again in our family.

Even though I love who my children are becoming, I’m just not ready to accept that the period of babyhood is over. The period of time where they are 100% reliant on you for survival. My brain and heart can’t handle that my tiny baby will be heading off to kindergarten in just another year.

Thinking about how right now they love to be around me and I am the complete center of their world, makes me dread the teenage years that will come just as fast. The heartbreak that independence and growing older brings to a mom is not an emotion that I am thrilled about encountering.

In the end, you realize that the years of sleepless nights and hormone surges that you endured at the beginning cloud your memory. You can’t remember all the details like you thought you would. What you want is to declare a redo, but it’s just not possible. Life doesn’t allow for that.

I want a redo on a sleepless night, so I can snuggle a little longer and remember that the long nights won’t be forever.

I want a redo on breastfeeding, so I can remember the amazing things that my body accomplishes even when I can’t remember to brush my teeth.

I want a redo on the diaper changes, so I can take the time again to kiss their toes and tickle their belly to make them smile.

I want a redo on baby bath times, where I can witness them explore the water and splash around like it’s the greatest thing in the world.

I want a redo on my maternity leave, so I can tell myself to focus on the infant and only the infant. The house cleaning could have waited, but I didn’t make it wait.

Unfortunately, redo’s aren’t possible. Moments are moments for a reason. They are made to be individualized memories, to be cherished at all costs.

With that realization, I am going to take in every second that I can with my not-quite-yet-4-year-old. And I’m starting with going to his room and bringing him into my bed to snuggle. Will it be the final time that I snuggle him? Most likely not. But I’m gonna treat it like it is, just in case.

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