Walking through Walmart I show my two year old the toddler potty and ask if he wants to buy one and ditch the diapers. He is not interested. Three kids in and I know better than to fight him. We move on.
We move past the strollers and baby blankets and I am flooded with memories. Being a first time mom and wanting to buy all-the-things cute for the human growing inside of me. Trips for pacifiers that we could never find when we needed. Late night grocery runs with a tight budget. Headbows for my daughters before they were too strong willed to pick their own mis-matched attire. Cracked nipples and leaky breasts. Oh the excitement and pride I felt when they start to sit, stand, sloppily grab toys with great intention.
My kids are older now - our only lingering link to babyhood are the diapers my youngest isn't giving up on. We're trading car-seats for boosters, and baby-walkers for bicycles. That sweet, sweet newborn smell on the top of my children's heads has been replaced with the smell of dirty, sweaty play. We don't have to hide the leggos. The bulky bouncy baby gear that was a benchmark in my home for years is nowhere to be found, passed on to the next wave of drooling babes. There is no more holding on to baby goodies with the "we will get to use this again" sentiment.
We are moving into the next season of life.
My stomach is no longer a home for new life. It feels empty, squishy and out of place. It's magic gone to most, but it still lingers as I pull my pants beyond the skin folds that once housed tiny kicks, stretches and hiccups.
I walk to the kitchen and pass a stuffed Curious George on the floor. He is always there, my son carries him with him constantly. I can't imagine life without "Georgie", but yet one day he will be gone, a distant memory, just like the stuffed toys my daughters cherished years ago.
Babyhood cracks you wide open. Feed, snuggle, sleep, cry. Life is simple, but simple and easy are not one and the same. It's a massive transition and holy hell is not sleeping for years on end hard. But you do it. And then one day the babies are children and you're sleeping again. And the sweet babies are talking off your ears about boring ass pokemon, telling white lies, and rolling their eyes in the backseat.
How did I get here?
My children are entering the phase of life that I actually remember myself in. I remember being my oldest child's age. I remember my friends, my parents, my friends parents. I can still feel the child I was. How can I be that person and still this adult, parent self?
It's an exciting time. Piecing the old and the new together. The veil has lifted on the baby haze, and I see things differently, yet the same. So much beauty to come, so much of them discovering themselves. So much of me reconnecting with myself. Yet I still sit with a lump in my throat. Is it really over?
I stand firm that distance makes struggles seem easy. I will forget the active feeling of isolation that reaches your bones when you're home 24/7 with a baby who doesn't talk or engage. I've forgotten much already.
As they enter this phase I will try to not damage their psyche, but remember that all parents inevitably do. And I will squeeze and kiss and snuggle my youngest until the bitter end, for I know that it is near.