A friend of a friend posted this article on Facebook yesterday called "I'm Afraid to Stop Having Babies." I talked about it with David last night and with a close friend today.
Ben is 3 now, and though he still has his passy at nap time, and though he still snuggles against me when he wakes up groggy from his nap, I see the day approaching when he'll no longer seem like a toddler. It's so easy for me to want to keep him a baby.
The baby stage is what I've lived and breathed for the last 7 years. That feels like such a long time in my life as a mother, and I've grown comfortable there. The unknown future with older children honestly seems scary to me, and though I know that's probably largely because I fear the unknown, it's still hard.
Maybe part of what I'm mourning is the loss of a simpler time of mothering. Parenting babies is tough, but it doesn't feel as complex to me as trying to figure out what sports would be best for my oldest or how to prepare him for yearly achievement testing. I knew what I was supposed to be doing with my little ones and how to do it (for the most part). We had fewer activities. Instead of tae kwon do and Cub Scouts, it was playing at the park and blowing bubbles in our cul de sac.
I'm beginning to navigate different waters now with my slightly older children, and I don't know what I'm doing. There are days that I really feel that.
I also don't feel like I was prepared somehow for mothering after the baby stage. All my life, I looked forward to getting married and having babies. That was what I dreamed about. The time after they were babies didn't get any consideration from me. I just didn't imagine it.
So now I'm here, living in an in between space. My youngest is still a toddler, but my oldest is in 2nd grade. Even if I had another baby tomorrow, the days of only parenting young ones are over for me. I probably just need to mourn the passing of that phase and get excited about the next one, and I know it.
Knowing it doesn't mean that it doesn't still feel sad and confusing sometimes. It doesn't mean that I shouldn't shed a tear or two about giving away the baby gear. Welcoming a new person into your family is such a wonderful and special and unique kind of exciting. Feeling like you won't do that again should feel like a kind of loss, right?
I think my phrase for this year is going to be "Fear Not." I have a lot of fears, but I don't want to be ruled by them. More of my friends and acquaintances are dealing with cancer and health problems and parents dying. I've been dealing with chronic illness. Maybe part of wanting to stay in the young mother stage is wanting to live as if the natural difficulties of getting older can't touch me if I park there.
But I can't park there, and I want to live boldly and joyfully while it is still called today. I can't control what happens tomorrow, but I can fight to trust that God is good. He has good things for me and my family, and even though I don't have a clue what I'm doing so often in this parenting gig, and even though I don't know what trials will surely come, today is what I've got. I'm not supposed to worry about tomorrow. I'm supposed to serve and love and open my arms wide to welcome what He has for me, whatever that is.