“You’re gonna miss this . . .”
I heard it all the time from other moms. From strangers at the store.
As I was a harried mother of three under five, I would, just like every other mom out there, have people letting me know just how much I would, someday, miss the phase that I was in.
I love my boys. I have from day one.
I don’t miss having babies.
I actually liked the delivery part of the parenting gig. Even with all the pushing and pressing and pain involved to get a human out into the world. Even with one being delivered via C-section. I can honestly say that I was happy to get to experience such an intense miracle.
About two weeks in, each of my first two babies started to scream. Day in. Day out. It started as minutes. Into hours. It turned into days, weeks, months on end. They were fuming little men. And because they were, all three of them, welterweights at under five pounds each at birth, I was essentially nursing or pumping or syringe-feeding them every other hour of early motherhood in an attempt to keep them satiated and growing.
Our first nine months with each of them meant we were fairly tied to the house. They would rarely close their eyes throughout the day. They spewed fire spit after every feeding. And the screaming cycle would start again. And again. And again.
There were nipple shields, elimination nursing diets, alarms to wake up night after night for months, weight checks, every attempt to watch happiest baby on the block and a legitimate obsession with figuring out what shoooosh sound was supposedly going to turn my angry birds into happy chaps.
I did not like being a mother to babies.
I loved getting to have babies in order to be a mother.
That was not, to date, my time to shine in motherhood.
I struggled for a long time with that.
I felt like a failure. Like I didn’t possess a maternal bone in my body. I was sure that while I was apparently meant to be able to get pregnant and carry babies, I was not meant to actually be a mother. I watched mothers whose babies cooed and cuddled, giggled and smiled, and slept in the stroller as they chatted it up with friends or took a walk. And I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me.
Eventually, as all things seem to do, that time passed. We got into a groove. They began to gain weight. And at a year-ish, I was able to ditch the elimination diets and regain some bit of my pre-mothering identity.
As they got happier and more content in the world, so did I in mothering.
But my reality seems to be holding strong: I just don’t miss it.
I don’t want them to grow up too fast, I don’t want to wish life and time away, but I don’t have a desire to go back to babies.
There were, just like every part of motherhood, parts having babies that I did love. The snuggles when they were asleep. The first smiles. The tiny fingers. The wrinkled foreheads. And the squishy feet. But for me, all of those beautiful things came mangled up in a big mess of challenges. Challenges that I don’t know how I’d ever do again.
I’m great with having lived it all once.
Because the spitting. The incessant screaming. The not knowing what the heck I was doing day in and day out. The massive deficit of sleep. That just was not where I felt as secure in my identity as a mom.
I am so lucky to be a mother to three boys. I am so happy to have them and know them as people. But I am also so happy to be out of the baby phase. And I so love the stages that come after the spitting stops and the sleeping starts.
I don’t miss having babies. And while I love holding, staring at, and smelling the little wee ones of others, I also love, so very much, when I get to give them back.