Behind The Bittersweet Moments


Behind The Bittersweet MomentsI am beyond proud to announce that my three-year-old, the youngest of my four kiddos, cold-turkey stopped wearing pull-ups recently. He slipped on some big boy undies and never looked back. You can imagine my shock as we have bought diapers for the last decade. I could have probably worked with him sooner, but I knew it would happen eventually and when he was ready.

There’s something unexplainable that happens as your last baby starts growing up. It is not just his last, it’s also my last as a mom — cue the tears. You see, behind every toddler who stopped wearing diapers, is a mom who stopped buying them. Behind every child who started sleeping through the night, is a mom who woke up worried the next morning, doing the quiet run into their child’s room to make sure they were still breathing. Behind every child who transitioned from a bulky car seat to a booster seat, is a mom who finds herself with more space in the car. Behind every child who learned how to tie their shoe, is a mom who spends a little less time knelt by the door.

As a mom of multiples, I have felt these milestones to my core with my youngest child. These times hit more so in the moment with my youngest, but with my oldest child, I ask myself: When did he get so big?! How did I blink and have an almost 11-year-old?!

Recently, I was reminded of how my oldest is also in and out of phases too. A stick caught my eye while walking last week. It was long on each side and connected in the middle and I just knew my oldest son would love it! I could see him standing it up in the ground as he created a village for bugs surrounding the base of the stick. I carried it home, bouncing it back and forth between hands, eager to give it to him. Later that afternoon, he was shooting hoops in the driveway when I excitedly showed him what I had found. He slightly nodded his head, barely glanced at my discovery and let out an unenthusiastic, “Cool” as he went for a layup. Just cool?! This was a super awesome stick. He used to love finding these gems to play with, but now it is just…dispassionately cool? I still have this boy’s cool rocks which he use to bring to me to keep alongside the flowers he would pick me from the yard… I was sure this stick would bring him joy, but it has been lying in my driveway for several days now and not once has he given it another thought. Every time I walk by I am reminded that it is happening: he is — big breath– simply put…growing up.

My oldest has completely lost his baby face; his features are more defined than ever and he is quickly catching up to my height. I am afraid to admit this, but his newfound lower-toned voice may not be due to a cold. He is a hard worker, intelligent and so caring. I am proud of him and how he is growing, but gosh it’s hard. And yes, while there is something unexplainable that happens as your last baby starts growing up, there is also something unexplainable that happens when you look at your oldest child and wonder, “Where did my baby go?”

So now I’m learning behind every kid who stops collecting rocks and sticks, is a mom whose collection stops growing. Behind every kid who prefers to read to themselves before bedtime, is a mom no longer cuddling up to read the bedtime story. Behind every kid who can reach the top cabinet without a stool, is a mom wondering when they got so tall.

Behind every last baby’s milestone, is a mom whose heart is breaking. Behind every oldest child’s achievement is a mom who’s wondering when her baby grew up. I venture to say that behind every bittersweet moment, is a mom wishing she had appreciated the time in the moment before it became a memory.

Perhaps I savor these moments with my youngest, knowing how quickly they pass. Let this be a reminder for me and moms of multiplies everywhere, that as you’re experiencing lasts with your youngest, don’t forget to soak up the experience of the first-of-those-lasts with your oldest (and all in between). They need us too.