Struggling To Say Goodbye to the Baby Years

Blogger Allison Slater Tate (writer of the glorious piece The Mom Stays in the Picture earlier this year) brought me to tears with her articulate piece “The Change of Life” on the Huffington Post about her soul-searching process while giving consent to her husband’s vasectomy and bidding farewell to her years of babydom.

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Share your tips on letting go of the baby years below!

“I have spent the the past year counting up my lasts, filing away my memories: my last pregnancy, my last childbirth, my last newborn,” she writes.  “I find myself slowly adjusting, turning my face and my mind fully forward toward my children, realizing that from now on, I will know exactly how big of a kitchen table we will need and exactly how many chairs will be around it.”

In her piece, she eloquently describes how she’s biding farewell to the lasts of being a mother to young babies and welcoming the firsts of being a mother to older kids.

So unlike me.  As a mom who birthed five babies in 6.5 years, I have struggled to say goodbye to the baby years.  No more babies? Like Allison, I am so grateful to have my five healthy troublemakers, but unlike her, I am stuck.

Am I Ready For No More Babies?

I wonder am I ready for the next stage of life? Here are a few tell-tale signs that I am not letting of the baby years and not moving on from my last pregnancy:

  • One of my larger kitchen drawers (precious real estate) holds many years’ worth of now unused breast pumping equipment.
  • Our changing table remains in the nursery. It’s now a storage area only, but no one is planning a retirement party.
  • Stacks of baby clothes decorate the corners of my bedroom.
  • When people ask me when baby number six is coming, I get excited. (By the way, does anyone ask a reformed cigarette smoker when his next cigarette will come?  Thanks!)

I tell myself that I haven’t had time to move to the next stage, but miraculously, I have found time to weed through and organize my own closet.  So no, it’s not for a lack of time.  Like so much of my indecisiveness, it’s rooted in fear.

Have a question about a baby feeding or sleeping schedule? I’m your woman. I might not be right, but I have some ideas.  But ask me how you respond when your 7-year-old tells you as you help him with his piano that you’re spitting on him?  I’m at a loss.  Diaper sizes? No problem.  A child who says “I feel like no one understands me?”  I’m just not quite sure.  Do you say that sucks, or do you try to cheer your kid up?  I’m doing my best in the moment but oftentimes, I don’t think I’m getting it right.  And that’s just the present.  Facing the future of raising five kids and issues such as video games, Googling with porn surfacing up, first cell phones, and then the larger financial and personal stresses, like perhaps even parenting them alone should something happen to my husband?  It’s too much for me to think about.

So as I react to Allison Slater Tate’s piece, I’m realizing that because I’ve always had a young baby, the intensity of the baby years has allowed me as a mom to dodge my fears about being a mom to older, more complex kids.  Maybe this is behind my excitement when a new mom asks me a question about a newborn… I’m not just helping out, I’m avoiding the complexity of my own station in life.

I usually try to offer up some sort of practical tidbit in my blogs but today I’m the one who really needs the help.  To those moms who have been through this, how did you find the confidence to move on past the baby years?  How did you let go of your onesies, your baby-sleep sacks, and your infant hats and embrace the challenges of parenting older kids?  I really need your parental help!

I would love any advice you have because I’m realizing this has to change.  I have to move on.  For my own sake and for my kids.  It’s time mommy grew up.

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