Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Saying Good-Bye to Babies

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Today, I climbed the creaky stairs into the dim and dusty attic, searching for three little boxes. They are labelled "Newborn", "3-6 mos.", and "6-12 mos." I found them in a dark corner, along with a baby tub, a trashbag full of Playtex bottles and nipples, and a smiling wooden hobby horse whose shaggy mane, from the looks of it, has provided many a meal for the creatures who dwell there.

I dragged them downstairs and opened them, breathing in that peculiar, musty unwashed clothing odor, and remembering a time when those tiny things smelled sweetly of baby powder and Desitin.

My children are 8 and 11. I still have every stitch of clothing they have ever worn. I still have caps and booties and bibs. I still have teethers and rattles and stuffed lovies. I still have the stroller, the exersaucer, the baby swing, and the bassinette. I still have dogeared and drooled upon board books, lullabye tapes, and the white noise machine that once held a baby picture.

For a long time I kept these things because I thought I would have more babies. I was raised to economize by parents who struggled to make ends meet, and so, I dutifully packed things up, labelled them, and put them away for the next child. I was sad to put them away, because it was an all too wrenching reminder that my babies were growing up with a speed that left me with an ache in my breast, wondering where the years had gone. But I looked forward to the day I would bring them out again. The new baby preparations were such a satisfying thing for me. I loved washing and folding those tiny, fleecy, fluffy things and placing them into drawers with scented pink and blue liner.

Over the years, I grudgingly loaned things to my sister, but only after exacting promises that they would be returned in the same condition as they were given. For the most part, she honored my request, though a few things were too soiled with the stubborn residue of long eaten green beans and yellow squash. A couple of toys did not withstand the rigors of toddlerhood and were bid a sad farewell. But my frugal nature was gratified that our things had gotten so much use and were well used and loved by children who meant almost as much to me as my own.

As the years passed, we began to realize and accept that we would not be having any more babies. For a very long time I waffled between being glad to have the days of sleepless nights, leaky breasts, and all things poop behind us and desperately longing to feel my belly filled once again with the weight of our almost baby. My husband carefully raised the issue of vasectomy from time to time, only to be confronted by a tearful wife who proclaimed she wasn't yet ready to close the door on the possibility of bringing forth new life. Because although I am a spiritually ambivalent, the miracle of birth is one I believe in with all my heart. I wasn't quite ready to say never again, and mean it.

Eventually, however, our life settled into a rythym that has been freeing and pleasing. Our boys are older and self-sufficient to degree. My days are my own. We sleep the entire night through, if we please. We can sleep in on Saturday mornings while the boys feast upon nutritionally bereft foodstuffs and questionable media. We can leave home on a whim, we can go where the day takes us. We do not have to plan around naps and nursing.

I won't lie. It's nice. And often when I look back on the days when I had babies, it is with a mixture of fondess and antipathy.

Still, when I brought down those boxes and began to pull out those things, there was a twinge.

And I realized that the real reason I hadn't sold them or given them away, was not because I hadn't yet admitted to myself that my days of rocking babies was past, but because my days of rocking THOSE babies was past, and that never again will things be as innocent, or as simple, as the days when a cuddle with Mommy would soothe any hurt.

My oldest one, at 11, looks me in the eye. He has girls, and sports, and hip hop music on his mind. I am no longer the center of his universe. He no longer tells me his secrets. And one day, another woman will lie next to him and listen to his hopes and dreams. My time is growing short.

My baby is 8. He is spirited. He challenges me daily and I feel that his babyhood was spent trying to keep him alive and me sane. I just did what I could to get through each day. Because I also had a toddler to deal with, I didn't get the luxury of spending hours alone with him, just playing, or reading or talking. I want to go back because I didn't know then how much I would regret not relishing every, single moment. Even the tough ones.

Recently a friend had a baby, and since she has chosen to stay at home, they are struggling with the loss of one income. And I have all these things....

I decided it was time to say good-bye to my babies, and welcome the young men they are growing into. The memory of that first step, that day in the park, that night spent watching over the first fever, that first day at school...those memories are not attached to the clothes they were wearing that day. They live in my heart, and they will be there always. They will be there long after those clothes will have rotted into dry and dusty rags.

So I'm folding baby clothes once again. I have washed them and restored them to April freshness. And I am enjoying it as much now as I did then. But instead of looking back, I am looking forward to new memories. The first dance. The first date. Graduation. Marriage. My first grandchild. Not all the special moments live in the past. Some lie ahead. And only by letting go can I appreciate them fully when they come.

I will still cry, and remember the way they used to be when those moments come. But I will not be sad that they have grown, but happy that they have grown into strong, confident, happy men.

To my sweet boys,

You made me a Mother and you taught me what it was to love without limit or condition. Now I look to the lessons you have yet to teach.

Good-Bye Babies. I will love you always.

Hello Young Men. I look forward to learning who you are.

Love,

Mom

10 Comments:

  • At 10:33 PM, Anonymous Momish said…

    It's so hard to let go! But, you are so right, that there is just so much more ahead. It is bittersweet, I can only imagine how you feel right now. I am impressed that you hung onto to those items for so long! I just have my daughter's first pair of socks. Those do it for me every time! The rest I can't stand to look at without getting weepy!

     
  • At 12:26 AM, Blogger Rebecca said…

    "Not all the special moments live in the past. Some lie ahead. And only by saying letting go can I appreciate them fully when they come."

    I needed to read that exact sentence. That was a wonderful post, B.A. I just packed up my first box of out-grown baby clothes. It breaks my heart that Normy, doesn’t fit in the same PJ's we first put him in. I can hardly believe the day will come when his jammies won't have footsies any more, he won't wear onsies, and I won't be able to buy him shoes for under $10! Some days I want to keep him a baby forever and others I can't wait for him to be more grown up.

    It is so important to remember this stage is fleeting and precious. I am trying to drink it all in, so like you I am able to relish each stage as it unfolds.

     
  • At 7:19 AM, Anonymous Antique Mommy said…

    And so, like me, do you look at all that baby stuff and think I should really give these things to someone who can use them (because you are practical) and then pack everything back where it was because you can't bear to part with it (because when it comes to your kids you are unbelieveably sentimental)?

    When your boy is grown and has a baby if his own and you are able to pull out something of his from his babyhood, his wife will weep at your feet.

     
  • At 8:18 AM, Blogger Mama of 2 said…

    What a wonderful post. I too held on to all my baby things and when I had Girlie Girlie 7 years after her big brother I was able to use some of those things and others were passed on to friends.
    I know we are finished having babies due to finances and my upping age but there are still twinges when I think we need one more to make our family complete.

     
  • At 9:42 AM, Blogger Mysit said…

    Dangit - you made me almost cry. With boys 13 and 11, I *still* can't just say "I'm done" - and I know I should. I've given away so much of their baby things already, we'd have to buy all new things if we *did* have just one more - but darnit...I'm not ready to say I'm done. The lure of a daughter echos. But I'm past 40. And we're fixin to move into a house that is only 3 bedrooms. We promised the boys they'd have their own rooms. No room for a baby.

    It doesn't help that the two ladies who sit behind me at hockey games had girl babies last year - and they thought they were done. *sigh*

    :-\

     
  • At 10:08 AM, Blogger Oh, The Joys said…

    Gah! Sobbing!

     
  • At 11:24 AM, Blogger Megan said…

    I'm crying. I don't have children yet, but I will be sure to relish every moment of their babyhood when I do!

     
  • At 1:34 PM, Blogger Ruth Dynamite said…

    I'm not far behind you and I already feel the ache. I don't want to let them go, but alas...

     
  • At 3:26 PM, Anonymous Flybunny said…

    This is the post I was trying to write but just couldn't.

    Thanks for your words to me the other day - it was reassuring to hear that you would fee similar if in my situation.

    I just love your writing so much!!!

     
  • At 8:09 AM, Blogger Rebecca (AKA - Rebel In Ontario) said…

    Beautifully put. I too am a mother of two boys (4yrs & 6 months) and if my best friend had not just given birth to a boy, I would be in your shoes in 6-7 years. But, DH and I have agreed that this is it so each time my sweet little boy out grows something and I tuck it away to take the next time I visit my best friend, I cry a little cry but know in my heart it is what is to be. I do have a "few" things I'm not willing to part with just yet, the sleepers both boys came home in, the little soft cap they both wore to keep their little heads warm, a blanket their great, great grandmother knit them before she passed away and the list continues to grow. But I know these things will keep my heart happy in the years to come as we start tackling all the "1st's" as my boys grow.

     

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