Yesterday, as Silas napped, Poppy and I painted our toenails. She was so excited that she even agreed to take off the purple rubber boots she had been wearing all day and sat perfectly still. She picked the colours and her eyes lit up and let out a little gasp with the completion of each tiny toenail. I considered painting my own toenails all one colour, but thought better of it and let her choose the colours for mine as well. We ended up with matching toes and she was thrilled. Silas shared our enthusiasm an squealed “Poppy’s pree toes!” and “Booofull!”.
It was a rather big moment for me as I realized we don’t have babies anymore. I have a little girl with a curly bob haircut and a little boy who hates to wear pants. We have a little boy and a little girl whose limbs were once curled up and enveloped in my own belly, but now stretch and reach out to who they are becoming. I measure their height on a door frame upstairs and witness their growth in little increments. I remember my own Gramma doing this with my cousins and I on a slice of her wall at the bottom of the stairs. It was still there when we cleaned out her house after she passed away and I felt a pang when I thought about the next owners who would inevitably sand and paint it over. I look up to the top of our own door frame and feel weepy at the thought of one day looking back at those first little marks I had made. Would I remember this day and who they were when I made that little mark? Would I remember the little quirks and funny things they would say and do. Am I recording enough?
Our heart breaks a little when we look at old videos and photos and marvel at how tiny they once were; when we realize we don’t get that moment back. Ever. It hits us that the child who is here today won’t be there tomorrow. Parenting is excruciating in that we can’t stop or rewind time. Since the moment Poppy was placed in my arms, time has moved too quickly; first the hours, then the weeks and months, now the years. It is death and re-birth with each bedtime and sunrise and sometimes I think my heart will break clean in half with the pain and pride.
Having another baby is a multifaceted decision, but I wonder how much of it is based on the hope of slowing time; delaying the inevitable day when we stop making a family and move into the realm of being a family; the day when we close that chapter of our own lives and youth forever. I am comforted by the thought of not having to have another baby, but I am also comforted by the idea that we could if we wanted.
Of course each day is better and the love deeper than it was the day before, but does it ever stop hurting? Is it one of those decisions you just know is right or are we always going to battle against the hard wiring of our species to reproduce? Do we ever feel done? Do our ovaries ever stop aching? Will I really never feel a baby roll around in my own belly again? Will I never nurse another sweet newborn to sleep? Will we never name another child? Will we never know another babymoon? Will we always feel like someone was missing from our family? Or will we be glad we didn’t overstretch ourselves and were better, more patient and attentive parents because of it?
Of course there are the practical things to consider such as the morning sickness and depression that swallows me during pregnancy; there is the c-section and recovery, the weight gain and breastfeeding; we would need a bigger vehicle and have another mouth to feed. Is there any truth to the warnings of being outnumbered? Would we change the perfect dynamic that seems to be forming right now?
I feel happy where we are right now. They love and entertain each other. They take care of each other as Poppy rushes over to Silas when he falls, exclaiming “Im’a coming Silas! You alright?” and Silas helps her find all the things she misplaces with a calm “Here Poppy” as he hands her the item she can never find. I enjoy the growing independence. I enjoy wearing my pre pregnancy clothes and bras again. I feel like the fog is lifting and, though there is magic in babies, it is physically intense. I look forward to the chatter and stories and learning that is to come.
The only thing that eases the pain of time passing too quickly is to be ever present and aware. To eat up every morsel of these young days. To let go of the guilt when we don’t live up to our own ideals and to loosen our grip so that we might enjoy this part with a vulnerable heart and enjoy these moments of clarity when they show themselves.
go gently + be wonderful