Leaving Babyhood for the First Time

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Find artist Katie Baklinski here.

I can’t help but feel the ever shifting movement through time as we close the season of babyhood. She’ll always be my baby. But she’s not a baby anymore. With the start of preschool (Yes, in NYC, preschool starts at 2. Which apparently is a year younger than the rest of America.), the breaking down of the crib, the advent of toilet training – I am forced to relinquish the baby years. This makes me sappy and sad, which is particularly strange because it’s not like I was all that fond of the whole infancy thing.

My first year postpartum was overshadowed by sleep deprivation, depression, anxiety, and a relentless yanking on my self-esteem – or rather lack thereof. We should be commemorating the breaking down of the crib with champagne bubbles and party streamers. Yet the paradox of parenthood triumphs, as always. So, we wipe the tears, move on with the tide of the day, because the new new will change again another day.

She took to school better than any parent could have ever asked for. (In fact she was quite upset the other day when it was time to go home.) I am left with a little more free time on my hands. As we enter the third year of Amata’s life, her needs have changed and she just doesn’t need me in the same way that she did last year, which was different yet than the year before that. I collect myself to adjust to the new needs. She certainly still thinks the world of me. But I’m not always the de facto favorite person to hang out with. I had to pick my jaw up from the floor yesterday when I went to pick her up from a friend’s house and she firmly planted her feet and said, “No mama. I stay here.”

Well okay then.

Who am I when my child needs me less? Who will I be when she goes to kindergarten? When she’s at middle school dances? High school football games? Am I who I want to be? Am I what I want her to see?

I’ve been scratching my head feeling futile with the whole “part time working mom” thing. I love what I do but gosh it feels like I have one foot in and one foot out. I hardly cover childcare, it’s not like I’m some bigwig CEO. Maybe it would be easier if I only had to focus on staying at home. That was my primary gig. Or maybe it’d be easier if I worked full time. Then I wouldn’t be answering phones while pushing a stroller and missing the bus and scrambling to find a pad of paper while my kid mews for “more raisins”.

Nah. I’m gonna keep going. I’m gonna keep on keeping on. It’s weird, right? The second our kids are born, they usurp every second of freedom and energy. And slowly, while not in a linear fashion, but in a gradual-eventual-trend-of-upwards fashion, they take less. Or maybe it’s the same, but it’s in a different way. It will be many years before my kid(s) are out of the house – but it will happen one day and I want to make sure I’ve taken the time to give to and nurture myself. Sure I’m a mom – but underneath the stained shirts and baggy eyes, I think there’s still a Cassie in there.

The tides – oh they are always changing. Parenthood is never stagnant. It’d be a shame if we got too comfortable.

 

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2 thoughts on “Leaving Babyhood for the First Time

  1. Beth Anne says:

    My sister used to work at a mothers day out/preschool program that took 2-4 year olds. I think with the evolution of daycare 2-year-old preschool has also become more normal.

    I think women have always struggled with identity. It’s weird how men don’t seem to feel that way (or at least they don’t talk about it). We’re moms, wives, daughters. But then sometimes we have a job title like CEO, Accountant, Lawyer, assistant, etc. So hard to juggle all of our “titles”

  2. Rebecca says:

    Such a great reflection. As a mom of a recently turned 2 year old myself, so much of what you wrote resonated with me. I think you are right to just keep on keeping on, I think it is a tension we will face forever am I “me” or am I “G’s mom” – and it is and forever will be both/and from the moment that second line showed up.

    Prayers for you as you navigate all of the holding on and letting go.

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