Not Ready, Not Yet

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I was reading the newspaper the other day and came across a parenting column that looked interesting.

“If you have toddlers,” it read, and my eyes started to glaze over. Nope, no toddlers here, I told myself. Then I read one sentence further and discovered that the article centered on a child who was 16-months-old.

I got a funny feeling in my stomach.

A sixteen-month-old isn’t a toddler, I muttered to myself, that’s just a baby. I then quickly recognized my attitude as that of a mother who is watching her baby grow up a little faster than she’d like. Maybe it’s what we call denial.

Henry turned eighteen months old the other day. If I let myself think about it, I realize that’s approaching something close to being a toddler. I’ll admit that he sometimes acts like a toddler, if by that you mean he climbs on the dining room table and tries to swing from the chandelier. He also wants to drive the truck-cart at the grocery store, and during the Christmas season we caught him trying to light the Advent wreath. I suppose those are toddler-ish behaviors.

But he’s not a toddler. I’m not ready for him to be a toddler. Right now he is The Baby, though I’m thinking this might be the name that sticks with him for life.

We are enjoying everything about Baby Henry, but there is also this bittersweet realization of how fast time really does fly. I am so aware of the brevity of this sweet season that sometimes it is almost more than I can bear.

Instead of eagerly anticipating the next milestone in Henry’s life, I am relishing the present accomplishment. Instead of thinking about next month or next year, I find myself blissfully content with right now. The days are filled with sweet moments that make me pause and think that I’d like to stay here, in this moment, just a little bit longer.

That’s not true of every single minute of every day of course. We have five boys, after all, and life is sometimes much wilder than I would like.

There are still evenings when I wonder if maybe smoke really does come out of my ears. One night, at the end of a particularly long day, I was standing in the kitchen trying to decide if I was going to yell or cry. Laughing wasn’t an option. I suddenly had a brilliant epiphany where I realized that I was the boss of this scene – and I sent the offending parties to their room. Sweet victory.

In spite of these bumps in the road, it is all so beautiful. I’m learning, at this season in our life as a family, that when it comes to the squabbles and frustrations, this too shall pass.

It’s funny how quickly seasons change in the life of a parent. For so many years, I was ready for the next step, the next age and stage and those glimmering peeks at my boys’ independence. So many little boys were fun, but also a challenge. I tended to eagerly anticipate the next milestone, looking for little signs that would prove life would soon be easier.

Suddenly, I’m not so eager for what’s next. It’s not that I don’t look forward to the future – I’m excited about it. I don’t necessarily want time to slow down, but I find myself more willing to just enjoy the moment. This is a wonderful season and I just don’t want it to go by too fast.

Just like that, I have gone from having a house filled with short little-boy toddlers who required amazing amounts of energy – to these entertaining, pleasant bigger boys, who still require a lot of my energy, but in a whole different way.

Four big boys, and one pre-toddler – who will always be the baby no matter how old he may be. 1585″ ,

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Comments

  1. Rachel —

    If it’s any consolation – my “baby” is already 4, and he will ALWAYS be “the baby”! Some kids just have that personality, and as much as I love that he’s “the baby” – he revels in it too! He knows his “place” in the family and eats up every second of it!! He was our little surprise gift from God, when we thought we were finished and we always laugh and thank God that He knows better than us what our family needs!

  2. Anonymous says:

    From Scotch Meg

    For those moments when smoke comes out of your ears, may I recommend “When Mom Turned into a Monster” by Joanna Harrison, if you can get it at the library. At least you still have someone to read it to! My baby is eight and almost nine, and he reads voraciously. I was reading to the others at that age, but he wants to be like the big kids. As in everything else.

  3. Mental Momma says:

    A sweet older lady stopped me in the grocery store just today and reminded me to enjoy it. I kissed Owen’s chubby little cheeks thanked her. It is hard not to wish for the next stage though. Especially when I catch him with a hand in the toilet…

  4. Grandma Elaine says:

    Having big brothers will cause the stages to come more quickly. But there will be times when Henry will fully take advantage of being “the baby” Enjoy both personalities!!

  5. But, you never know if God asks you to have another one!! So, then you will have the joy of another baby – :0)

  6. Anonymous says:

    I’ve haven’t commented before, but I remember when you announced you were pregnant with Henry.

    Time flies.

    Thank you for sharing. I read so much about FOCA and anyway you know what I mean. It is wonderful to read about a family where hope is made flesh and allowed to be born and loved.

    God bless.

    Martin from Australia

  7. I haven’t had that problem with my 22-month-old. He hasn’t been “The Baby” for months. Of course, his 7-month-old sister may have had something to do with that.

  8. My 3rd child and first son also turned 18 months old in Jan. Your musings are so familiar to me; it’s what I’m experiencing, too! Our “Baby Will” will always be the baby. His older sisters call him this all the time, can you just hear it when he’s 16? He ran away from me in a store the other day, and I called after him, “baby Will, come back!” and it hit me that if he was truly a baby he wouldn’t be able to run away and return. Oh, the joys and sorrows of motherhood. Isn’t it great! Rejoice- Happy Sunday.

  9. Anonymous says:

    When our fifth child Max was born, we knew Max would always be the baby. Then Augustine came along, who Max dubbed “Bay-Gus” and we knew Gus would ALWAYS be the baby. Until, of course, Ben was born and we realized that “Bay Ben” would now ALWAYS be the baby. Then God gave us Mary Pat. Then Jim.

    You see where I’m going? I’m pretty sure the baby we’re expecting in July (number ten, if you’re counting) will always be the baby, but I’m not so certain of my certainty.