I heard a lot of advice when I was pregnant and then as I was figuring out this mom thing- most of it was good advice, some outdated, but all was appreciated because I know it came from a good place. Something nobody ever prepared me for though was the last time.
No one ever mentioned that bittersweet feeling when you put on the last newborn diaper before you have to move up a size. The surprising feeling of sadness when it is that last nursing session before your little one weans themselves, and no longer needs you to feed them. That smile paired with the watery eyes combo as you box up clothes in baby sizes, and add clothes in children’s sizes to the closet.
I was prepared for the sleepless nights, and I knew those toddler years were unlike anything else. I understood I was giving up going to the bathroom alone and I was ready to totally embrace listening to a playlist of nursery rhymes on repeat everyday. That was motherhood and I was ready for it. I was not prepared however to experience something with my little one for the last time.
The hardest part of “the last time”?
Sometimes it happens with no notice… no preparation… no warning…
One day I put my daughter down for a nap, and it was like any other day. I changed her diaper, zipped her up in her sleep sack and started to sing our ‘before nap song’ as we turned off the lights in her room. Her sweet little face said “no sing” and I laughed it off, that my independent (some might say bossy) toddler was just so tired she was ready to go to sleep. I tried again the next day, and to my surprise, she wasn’t interested in the song again.
All of a sudden, I put my little one down for a nap, singing her to sleep, for the last time and I didn’t even know it. She is growing up and she doesn’t need those things she once needed from me. I burst with pride with who she is turning into, but where did my clingy-can’t-get-enough-of-mom baby go?
Additionally, my daughter’s closet is full of adorable outfits, memorable t-shirts from trips or vacations, and funny onesies that we just couldn’t pass up. She wears almost everything in her closet fairly regularly, so each week as I wash and fold clothes, there are sweet memories attached to certain clothing items. It brings a smile to my face when I picture her running at the park in that Minnie Mouse sweatshirt, or getting mac & cheese all over her face and that blue snowflake t-shirt.
The smiles turn into smirks when all of a sudden, without warning, I go to put her in her “My First Trip to the Zoo” t-shirt, and it no longer fits. These small moments mean nothing to the ordinary eye, but to a Mama’s heart, these little moments are reminders that our babies are growing and changing, each and every day.
Even when you know the ‘last’ time is coming – like when you know it is time to transition out of the crib, or you know you have one final day home with your little one before they start school, it still tugs on the heartstrings.
Not much can prepare a Mama to accept that her little one is not as little as they once were.
However, tugging on those same heartstrings, they will never be this little again.
With every ‘last’, comes a world of ‘firsts’ we get to experience.
The first time your child picks out their own outfit and proudly seeks your approval…
The first time your child reads you a story…
The first friend they make all on their own…
The first goal they score in soccer…
The firsts are coming, and maybe some may have already happened. Your little one is becoming who they are meant to be.
As the title of ‘mama’ fades to ‘mommy’ and the ‘lasts’ fade to ‘firsts’ – embrace the now, because every day your little one is changing and growing, and you have a world of beautiful, wonderful ‘first’ moments to experience with them. You may never know when you did something for the last time with your little one, but know that you get to experience so many firsts with them.