In the early days of being pregnant with my second child, my husband and I had joked that we were just at that point in our lives with our daughter, where we could “drive off into the sunset.”
My daughter had just turned three, and life was pretty perfect. We were fully aware that the new baby would bring us back to the starting line. Now three years later, I almost feel as if we have reached that destination again.
You see, as my son has become more independent, I’ve been plagued with an overwhelming ache and sadness that my baby days are over. I felt that void (though pregnancy was still possible for me) as I packed my baby boy’s clothes to pass them on to the next friend pregnant with number three. I felt jealous. Jealous that they will get to relive the amazingness a third time. Nurturing little ones has been my life for the past six years. How can I possibly let that go?
And then we went to the movies. It was my youngest child’s first time. He was over the moon with his popcorn and juice box. I sat between my two children and just relaxed. There was a mom with two older kids and a new baby several rows in front of me, having a terrible time. As I watched her in the aisle with a fussing newborn looking over at her two girls watching the movie, wondering what her next move should be, I no longer felt jealous of those taking the two to three plunge.
I actually felt relieved to be in this stage. I realized that perhaps I need to recognize this moment as my sunset rather than a void.
My children will never be at this age and stage again, and right now, it is awesome. We can leave the house with minimal things. The other day we went to the zoo and accidentally forgot the stroller, and it was okay! My children have begun to play with each other without me. We are one inch away from the littlest guy, being tall enough to use Ikea’s supervised play area. I can exercise when the kids are awake – AWAKE! We are diaper and sippy cup-free. And there is hot coffee – oh, yes – I can drink my coffee hot. This is our sunset.
Now mind you, I still have a three-year-old who just the other day colored his legs with a blue marker so he could be Blue from Blue’s Clues, and I have caught him quickly stuffing as much toilet paper in the toilet and trying to flush it all down before I can stop him on more than one occasion. However, his independence in the day-to-day stuff has allowed this mama to relax in ways that I had forgotten.
When I sit back and watch my kids play in the backyard, it is actually quite nice not to be as needed. I’ve begun to unearth some of the things that have taken the back burner since becoming a mom, and it feels good.