Sometimes, every once in a while, I wish I had a baby.
Truthfully, babyhood wasn’t my favorite time being a parent. I was often tired, messy, confused, and anxious. Babies take an enormous amount of physical work – the lifting, carrying, changing, bathing, feeding, rocking, cleaning, comforting…you know what I mean. Some of that was magical – the moment when your baby nuzzles against your neck, the sudden heaviness when your baby falls asleep in your arms, the splashy, silly baths, the joy of the gurgling smile as you lift your baby from the crib, ready for the day. There are mothers who would say every moment of babyhood was like that for them – miracle upon miracle to be savored and appreciated, hours spent in a rocking chair with their baby, content to just be there, in that moment.
I wasn’t one of those moms.
I waited impatiently for my babies to reach milestones…to sit up, to hold their bottles, to walk, and especially to talk. I was so happy when my babies started talking to me, able to tell me what they wanted in words instead of cries (bottle! blankie! potty!). My son, bless his heart, didn’t really start talking until he was two and a half – he kept me waiting, that boy.
Despite all of the hard work, the stinky, slimy, exhausted-ness of having a baby, there are times when I miss it so much it’s as if something is pulling on my uterus, some external force telling me I NEED a baby. Forget the fact that this would be virtually impossible at my age, or that my children are grown, or that I’m so very happy with my middle-aged life.
Sometimes when I see a baby in it’s mother’s arms, the connection so sweet and lovely, palpable as a warm breeze, it makes me long for those baby days with such sudden force that it takes my breath away when I remember that those hours, those days of toys and strollers, car seats and Cheerios, those are all long gone. They’re a blur of diapers, Johnson’s baby shampoo, mashed bananas and Barney videos, playgroups and picture-taking, onesies and bottles.
As my babies grew, up and away, I marveled at each and every step, watching them as they moved from babyhood to the toddler years, elementary school, and so on. Each year and each goal reached left another phase of their lives behind – rattles and mobiles packed away, high chairs exchanged for booster seats, cribs switched out for big kid beds. Each last moment – last bath given, last time carried to bed, last bedtime story read – passed without notice, or fanfare.
I never realized when it was the last time.
I love being an empty-nester. My husband and I don’t often feel any sense of longing for a full house – it’s always nice when the kids are here, and it’s also nice when we’re here together, just the two of us.
My grown kids bring so much good stuff into my life – they are still the most interesting people in the world to me. They will always be my babies.
But sometimes, I want a baby, right this minute, very much. Sometimes I want to hold a baby, soft and snuggly and dozing, and love it and care for it and protect it from the world.
But only sometimes.