Thursday, October 06, 2005

Little 'uns

Time keeps passing by, like a steady and relentless metronome. Actually, that's not true. Time is passing as if driven by a metronome that keeps speeding up, faster and faster. I am still getting used to the reality of not having babies or toddlers about. I can remember when my oldest was the age that my youngest is now. At that time, 8 seemed rather up in years for a child. Now...well, it seems a bit old for the youngest and presumably last of our children.

Said youngest was a big disappointed last night when he and his next older sibling had to go to bed, while the older offspring were still up and about. "It's not easy being the little ones," I commiserated. At the same time, I thought, enjoy this age, my son. Don't be in such a hurry...

Once in a while, I have "baby flashbacks". Usually it's when I'm tired and distracted. We'll be feverishly getting ready to go somewhere and I'll go over my mental packing list: clothes, shoes, diapers ♠ oh, wait! We haven't needed those for years!

While I miss the wonder and cuteness and delightfulness of babies, I must confess that I do not miss their diapers. Not at all. In fact, even after having changed the countless diapers of my six children, I still cannot bring myself to change the diapers of other children. That seems to surprise some people, who think I should now have a stomach of cast iron and should not be fazed by baby messes. If anything, I think I've gotten worse over the years.

Even during the years of babies and diapers, I was always sympathetic to the squeamish. I tended to keep my baby's diapers to myself, trying not to force them upon relatives, friends, babysitters, church nursery workers, etc. (Well, my dear husband, whose reward in heaven will be great, did rescue me at times from some of the worst toddler diapers.) It meant, of course, that we took our babies everywhere and didn't go where they couldn't. Not the typical lifestyle, to be sure, but it's one I don't regret. Not one bit.

It wasn't, of course, just because of diapers that we stayed close to our little ones. We were convinced, and still are, that this is in the best interests of babies and toddlers, that God's design includes mother-baby togetherness. I know it's a controversial and radical concept in our society today, but we boldly and unapologetically lived it out for most of our marriage. Mothers and babies belong together. It seemed a simple, practical, obvious, and motivating truth. At least to us.

My older children have let me know that they appreciate how devoted I've been to them and their younger siblings. They are old enough to express gratefulness for my sacrifices on their behalf. I can't tell you how much it means for me to hear them say that. But...the sacrifices really weren't that great. I don't mean to brag, but my children are so cute and so wonderful and so delightful, that not only did they inspire me to have more of them, but I simply did not have the urge to flit off and try to recapture my pre-motherhood lifestyle. Sure, there were moments, some of them long, of feeling overwhelmed. But my children, in the end, have always been worth it.

Now I'm in that different phase, where they want more independence, where they don't need my constant nearness. It's odd for me to be able to be out and about alone. I enjoy it...and it's strange at the same time. It certainly is a different season of life.

I'm not sure how well we're living out this season, or what regrets I will have. But I am thankful to God that, when it comes to my commitment to mother-baby togetherness, I can look back with many fond memories and no regrets.

1 comment:

  1. I have read a commentary on weaning somewhere which points out that weaning is not simply and end to something but a fulfilment. A ripeness. It sounds to me like that runs both ways. You've drank your good and proper fill of your children's interdependence and now can rest in the knowledge that this next phase of life will build on that even as it is different from it. I have two children, not-quite-one and not-quite-three, and we will probably have another two (or so), and I hope that twenty years from now I can look back with the same bittersweet fulness and satisfaction as you seem to have. Thanks for the reinforcement!