Today my last baby turns one. To say that this year flew since my last pregnancy is severely understated. Every “baby” thing that Teagan has given up has come too quickly for my liking. When she smashes her first little cupcake this evening, I’m expecting some tears (from me).
My Last Baby
Teagan is my bonus baby – the one I didn’t plan, didn’t want at first, but who I have enjoyed as an infant the most of all my kids. Part of it is her personality, and part of it has been a change in me since she was born. In this past year I’ve accepted the fact that my life has NEVER gone according to plan – yet it is a pretty sweet one.
Like all the other kids, the last baby Teagan is smart and inquisitive. She’s more friendly than some, and less friendly than others. She has a few soft wisps of blonde hair like her sister Emilia did at that age, and some curls at the nape of her neck like her sister London. Her eyes are brown like her brother Ferris (and me!) and her laugh has the intensity and tone of her only 100 percent genetic sibling, Erinn. When she’s in a serious mood, she resembles my husband. When her face lights up in a smile, she looks like me.
As if sensing her mother’s sadness at her rapid growth, Teagan is maintaining quite the baby look. She has barely any hair, only two visible teeth, a round face, chubby legs and a Charlie-Brown-esque head. The top of that head still has that six-month-old scent, and there are still some remnants of cradle cap speckled on it. She’s pulling herself up on the side of the couch, but has no interest in taking any steps yet. She lets me hold her, any time, and snuggles up close to my face.
I’m hyper-aware of the fact that when these baby cuddles end, I won’t have another child that is MINE (partially) until grandkids come along. I look forward to the years in between, but my heart hurts sometimes when I think about all the non-baby years in my near future.
I’ve wondered a few times when holding Teagan if I’ve really made the most of these baby years, these early childhood years, with all my kids. My son is almost 9, my oldest daughter almost 8. My next two daughters will be 7 and 4 this spring. When Christmas break comes this year, my son will officially be halfway done with elementary school. Halfway done?! Wasn’t I just clapping for him as he sang Herman the Worm for his Pre-K graduation? Who are these smart, inquisitive, well-spoken kids that inhabit my home? Have I done enough so far — and what can I do to make the most of the years to come as they live in my home?
How many snuggle sessions have I squandered? How much work do I really need to do to give them enough in life, but still be the present mom they deserve? Are they getting everything that they need from me?
With my second youngest, Erinn, that first year was sort of a chaotic blur. I said she was my last, and I meant it, but there were no “this is my last baby” sort of feels. I was just trying to survive life with 4 under the age of 6. When Erinn turned one, I breathed a sigh of relief. She was getting older, more independent, less miserable all of the time.
As my three older ones started preschool, and then Kindergarten, I was happy. There was a little bit of bittersweet nostalgia as I thought about how quickly they were growing, but it was time. I had wished for (how many?) years for the days when my hands would be less full, my house emptier.
Since Teagan was born, I’ve stopped wishing time away. I can’t think of one instance where I wished Teagan would get to a milestone faster (not even sleeping through the night!) and every “big girl” thing she’s done has creeped up on me before I could protest.
It’s not just Teagan though. I’ve stopped wishing any time away with my older ones too. They will never be the same people tomorrow that they are today. I’ve started to just enjoy — like REALLY enjoy — my children.
Looking back, I’m glad that first year with Erinn wasn’t my last baby experience — and not just because I got Teagan out of it. Going through these first-year motions in a better state of life, a better frame of mind, has reminded me how precious my time is with all of my kids. It’s reminded me that even the longest nights end, the hardest days pass, and that there is so much beauty in every struggle, mundane moment and joyful second of parenting.
If Teagan hadn’t come along, I fear I would have missed these realizations altogether. I may have continued my parenting existence in fight-or-flight mode, going through the motions in autopilot, never experiencing that transcendental shift from parenting with my brain to parenting with my heart.
For this alone, thank you Teagan. I know you can’t stay a baby forever, even for the sake of your mother, so I look forward to the young woman you will become.
Happy first birthday baby girl. And happy first anniversary to our complete family.
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Tags: combined family