My oldest son is five today. I’ve always thought I was a little strange because my kids’ birthdays have come and gone without much nostalgia on my part. I have never been sad to see a birthday pass because I had just spent the last year trying to get them to the ‘next step’ of independence. I have never found myself pining for their younger years back.
I came across a video of Levi when he was three. He was wrapped in a big white towel, post-bath, and sitting on the toilet singing Baby Beluga with me. If you have toddlers, you know this isn’t a weird scene to come across.
I watched this video and sat in silence for a moment. His face was so round, his speech was so unformed, his smile was so constant and didn’t require solicitation. It hit me – I didn’t even see the tide rise and fall and slowly etch the landscape of his shape and thoughts.
For the first time in my motherhood, I wanted that time back.
Like all new parents, Levi was born and we were all about every roll, giggle and ridiculous eyelash he inherited from so-not-me. Sixteen months later our baby was sharing my arms and time with a little sister. Then by three and a half he was heading up the sibling three-pack. There is a part of me that will always wish I could have given him so much more of just me in these early years.
Though, maybe I also wish I could have had more of him all to myself.
That first baby, all to myself. The first one who began the infinite string of lessons I would be learning by his mere presence. Parenting would never be as easy to achieve or manage as I assumed when we started trying to have kids. It would be an unfurling tapestry of miracles, milestones, hurdles, joys all woven together in what I get to keep as a momento of being their mother.
There is no regret in having all the kids so close together. It’s been wild, but we are reaching a new clearing and things are plateauing for a season. As tough as it’s been I see the ground work that was being laid amongst the three of them. I see a bond in them that I know will result in mutinies against their boring parents; I know they will watch out for each other. I see a struggle in each of them to love each other for who they are; they are learning about loving like a friend. I see them sharing their space and time and life with eachother; they are in this together.
I do have a regret, though. I regret not paying attention to the changes, as the tide was washing away the restless grains of sand and reshaping the shoreline.
Maybe every parent feels this, maybe some feel it with each passing coo their newborn makes, maybe some feel it when their house is finally empty. I’m feeling it now.
So as my ‘biggest boy’ blows out five candles today I will tell him he’s always my baby, my first baby. As his little brother and sister get on his nerves and try to trump each other for all my cuddles I will cherish it. I will hold their little round faces, pile up their loose fine hair in my hands, and ask them what they did ‘lasterday’. I will take way too many pictures and videos. I will give them space to be so little and wild because that’s what they are right now. Then at the end of the night, I will have myself a very entitled weepy mom moment when they go to bed the youngest they will ever be again.