My baby girl is 3. THREE! I have to say, I am very surprised by my strong reaction to this particular birthday. I cried when each of my babies turned one, but so briefly. I'm pretty sure I was too tired and too overwhelmed to really explore my feelings too much. Then two kind of flew by me...then Jackson turned three and started preschool and I thought, "It's ok, Faith, you have one more baby, she's not three yet!" So I was able to enjoy Jackson's turning three and moving out into the world (ok, there were some tears, but I made it through). The problem with that is that Addy was soon to be three, and I had to deal with it then. Now. Ugh.
There are many reasons why "3" is such a big milestone - it seems like they can do so much more by this age. They officially leave the "toddler" phase and move into the "preschooler" stage. But, for us, Addison's third birthday marked the last time I would nurse her. I had set that age as my "limit" about a year ago when it became clear that she was probably not going to wean herself. As it got closer, I dreaded it. We were only nursing right before bed, but it was our time. It was special and comfortable and intimate. We both relaxed and bonded together before she went to bed. If I could have continued nursing her, knowing she would eventually wean herself, I would have. But I honestly don't think she would have weaned any time soon...and I just couldn't see myself with a kid in preschool who nursed. I know this is a cultural limit set for me...but I still can't seem to get past it. This breaks my heart even more because I am giving up something we both love because it is not culturally acceptable. There were also some medical reasons that led me to wean - too many times that I needed a medication but couldn't take it because I was nursing. I am looking forward to one less complication in that area.
Bust mostly I'm just sad to say goodbye to the last piece of "babyhood" we had left. I absolutely adore that my children are growing and thriving. I know that I am blessed beyond words to have two healthy, happy and amazing babies (big kids!). I just wish it didn't have to go by so fast. As much as the days can be hard, I know that each moment is a gift, and those moments are so fleeting. I spent so much of my life waiting for the day I could hold my babies, rock them, nurse them. Then those days came and I was in a fog and then they were gone. Just like that. Addy cried the last two nights and asked me "when can I nurse again? It's not my birthday anymore?" It killed me to tell her that she won't nurse again - because I knew that it meant that I won't ever nurse my baby again. How did such and amazing and magical part of my life fly by so quickly? I sure do love my babies, and I love parenting them (ok, most of the time:)), but I don't like the part of parenting that is so bitter, so heartbreaking. I don't like saying goodbye to some of the sweet phases, to the first steps, to the first "mamas," to the bottle feeding, to the first giggles. The bottom line is, I suck at change. I like things to stay the same as much as possible. And, of course, children never stay the same - ready or not, they plunge forward into newer and more complicated areas of development and we, as parents, spend our lives frantically trying to keep up while we desperately try to capture the beautiful moments in our memories and dump all the hard ones from our minds. It's too much, I tell you!
I do know, though, that with each new stage comes loss AND fun. For this new stage, Addy and I had our first pedicure together. I took Addy with me to a pedicure when she was just a couple of weeks old and she slept in the stroller. I remember dreaming of the day I would take her to get her own nails done. That day finally came.
Gosh, I love her. This parenting thing sure is a trip, isn't it?
When Panic Attacks
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