Holding on to Babyhood
When you have a child (especially your first), it seems that you are always celebrating some sort of a milestone or another in the beginning. In the first few years, everything is an achievement; Their first outing, rolling over, first tooth, first words, and even their first haircut. It's funny because after a few months, these things aren't celebrated anymore. They are just expected. For every milestone achieved, that child is one step closer to growing up; one step closer to Kindergarten graduation, one step closer to becoming a teenager, and one step closer to heading off to college or leaving home. For people that have large families, these celebrations seem to become less frequent as the amount of kids increase. It's not because we think any less of the subsequent children, we just become busier and there is more to focus on. It seems that big families tend to focus more on the oldest child and the youngest child. I know it is sad, but the oldest continues to be the first usually to do things, and the youngest is the last to do everything.
Generally, one of the last big accomplishments in the baby/toddler years is potty training. It is a goal you start dreaming about right in the beginning as a new parent. No matter how much people prepare you for parenthood, you still seem amazed at how many diapers a little bitty baby can go through in a day. In a big family, when your oldest gets potty trained, it is like a countdown has begun. You say to yourself, "Okay one down two to go" (well at least in our house when we had 3 kids 3 and under...but then of course we had more kids lol). The end of diapers seemed like a mirage in the desert, or like a myth...it seemed at times that the day would never come.
Most of my girls have been potty trained around the age of two or not too far into their third year. Back in December, my youngest daughter, Nessa, turned three and was still not out of diapers. We have two girls who have birthdays the week of Christmas, so you can imagine how hectic our house is around the holidays. I mean our house is crazy all year, but add in birthday celebrations, holidays, school functions, etc. and it becomes a tornado that just whisks right through always in an abrupt manner. Partially due to this craziness, we never pushed the issue of potty training her (My thought was...She's hardly going to walk down her wedding aisle in a diaper anyway, right?) Needless to say, as of two weeks ago, Nessa is finally diaper free! I've been thinking a lot about this topic ever since. I feel like it's because it is the last big accomplishment of a child's baby/toddler years. I thought I would never think this, but it almost makes me sad.
Many people ask us, since we have five girls, if we are going to try for a boy. The answer is no. We are not having any more children and therefore we know that Nessa is truly our "baby". She will be the last one to wear diapers, and she is the last one to exit "Babyhood". Because of this, I have been wondering, was the lack of focus on potty training a subconscious thing? Is it because we don't want her to grow up? No matter how badly we want to stop buying diapers, it is a sign that we have no more babies. It is a sign that our children are getting older. There are less snuggles wanted. There is more independence everyday. They are all one step closer to not needing "Mommy and Daddy" anymore and that is a very sad and scary thought. It's not the potty training or the diapers, it is what they symbolize. I am thinking more and more everyday that it wasn't that we were too busy to focus on Nessa's potty training, or that we were being lazy. It was simply because I don't want to lose my "baby". Don't get me wrong, I do want her to grow and thrive just as any child should. I do. I am just feeling something that I wasn't prepared for.
I am thankful and blessed to have happy and healthy children that are developing into amazing young women. I can't wait to see what the future holds for my beautiful girls. I'm not going to lie, though, I loved when they were babies. I loved the way their little baby smiles could make me instantly happy. I loved the way their little giggles could fill my heart with so much love and warmth. I loved just snuggling against their baby soft skin sometimes all morning and night. I loved the smell of their skin and even their milk breath. But most of all, I loved the way they would gaze up at me like I was larger than life. I fear that the older they get, the less they will look at me that way. That's why I think I wanted to hold on....as long as I could.