Today my son turned 1. It was a bittersweet celebration. What is it about first birthdays that makes mom’s so nostalgic and sad? It’s a milestone to be sure, but it certainly isn’t the end. If anything it’s just the beginning. Yet here I am feeling wistful and excited all at the same.
A dear friend told me: “Embrace it. Look forward to the next phase of adventures.” Words of wisdom, ones I would do well to heed. I am deliriously proud of all that he has accomplished and become over the last 12 months. I am delighted by the joy and richness that he has brought to our family. I treasure each moment we’ve had as indivudual gifts. Yet I”m so very sad that he’s reached this milestone already. Where has the time gone? Why do I feel so strongly like if I’ve lost something?
It’s simple really. He very likely will be my last baby. We never planned to have more than two. It was how we wanted it to be. But now, as my youngest grows from baby into toddler, I’m conflicted. I don’t feel done. I’m not sure my family is complete. If this feeling scares me, you can imagine what it does to my husband. He’s ready to move forward. To him we are how we are meant to be. He has no longings for more. I do. The question is, where do these feelings come from?
My husband believes that no matter when we have our last, I will always feel nostalgic for more babies. He doesn’t think the longing for more ever really disappears for mothers. I beg to differ. I believe women know when they are done. Perhaps that’s naive. But what if he’s right? What if we decide to take the leap and as the new baby reaches his or her first birthday I feel just the same. Incomplete. Which is not to say that I don’t feel whole with my two beautiful sons. They enrich my life in ways that I cannot express in words. My family is what I always hoped it would be. Yet, still I feel incomplete.
It scares me to think I will never hold another milky soft baby, breathe the scent that is a baby’s delicious hair, snuggle so close together so as to feel that we are just an extension of one another. I cannot imagine never again feeling the intensity of emotion that comes from nourishing another infant with my body. Even when sleep was at it’s worst, even when I struggled to cope, even when I had my lowest day as a mother, a little part of me still felt the need for another baby.
The question is, will that ever go away? Beyond longing for all the babyness, (of which, for the record I am still quite steeped in, after all, he’s only 1!) I haven’t given a passing thought to the more real implications of having a third child. Could we afford more children, how would our lives have to change, what does that mean for my career. You get my drift. My son’s Godmother is currently expecting her third child. I keep telling her that she’s my science experiment. I’m watching closely to see all the actions and reactions that come from the new addition to her family.
For now, I’m not worrying. I have lots of time to decide. I’ll continue to celebrate all the changes that are yet to come in both my boys. I’ll enjoy this beautiful family I’ve created and revel in how it feeds my soul. When it comes time to make a decision, I’m certain my heart will guide me in the right direction.
In the meantime, happy birthday to my wee man. You light my soul. For that I’m grateful.