Friday, November 10, 2006

Last-Chance Parenting



Genevieve is 12 weeks old; next week, on the 15th, she'll be three months old. Thus, she is entering what is, I think, my very favorite period of babyhood: the three-to-six-month-old stage. There's something about this age that I just adore; I did so with Julia too. Babies are such wonderful bundles during these months: no longer so floppy that their heads bob around like marionettes when you hold them on your shoulder, but not yet so big that holding them on your shoulder, or anywhere else, feels like a major strength-training workout. Plus, they start to look so prototypical-baby. You know: the wrinkly little-old-man face is gone, and in its place is a round, peachy expanse of chubby cheek and chin (yes, chins can be chubby). Oh, so kissable. So irresistible. And the smiles! These babies, they get so charming right around now. All you have to do is look at them and they jump and wiggle with so much joy, they flash their wide pumpkin-grins so wetly, that you feel like you just won a prize for doing nothing. And who can ever get enough of that feeling? Certainly not me.

Which brings me to this. The thing about thinking that you're probably not going to have any more babies is that everything--every single little thing--is the last. The mourning starts right away. You're only four weeks into new-babydom, and poof! the last mitten-sized newborn diaper you will ever use again. A week later, and goodbye tiny knitted bonnet with the ribbon ties. Another month or so? Never again the swaddling, never again the bassinet. It goes on and on; it never ends, right? Although I guess there's a bright side to the endless never-agains of parenting: I mean, surely the last night-nursing, the last potty-training accident, the last orthodontia bill, the last driving lesson--these will be causes to celebrate.

And I try, really hard, to appreciate the present moment with my baby--with both my babies, actually, the new one and the giant two-and-a-half-year-old one too--because the thing about these lasts is that you rarely, if ever, know in advance when they are coming. You just look around one day and go, Wow, when did she stop with that crazy full-belly, split-second, phantom grin thing she used to do in her sleep? Or, When did she get too big for the Pooh hat with the ears? The other day Genevieve fell asleep nursing, and though I know there will be many more instances of that occurrence in future months, I couldn't help but marvel at her heavy lids and her bear-cub snores, because one day this baby will never nurse to sleep again, but will instead twist her curious head and kick her big-baby legs and groan and giggle her way through her milky snacks, and this warm little pup crooked in just one arm will be a distant memory.

So: Genevieve is hitting her baby-stride, and I'm thrilled. And also, you know, a little bit sad.

1 comment:

Donna said...

DITTO. I'm sure we'll be sharing a lot of the same thoughts in the next 18 years as well!