I thought I’d be sad when I finally weaned my last baby. I loved breastfeeding them and couldn’t imagine every wanting to stop. But one day I realized that whenever E was ready to stop, that would be fine with me. I thought I’d be sad, but I wasn’t. Nor was I happy. I just was. E was weaned, and it was okay.
I thought I’d be sad about not having a baby in the house anymore. I love babies — the baby years are my forte when it comes to parenting. We had nine straight years of diapers, sleepless nights, babywearing, and peek-a-boo. I thought I’d be sad, but I wasn’t. Our family was ready for new experiences, for being able to go places without a huge stroller or a diaper bag, for having toys with tiny little choking-hazard parts strewn around the house, and it was okay.
I thought I’d be sad when I couldn’t lift my kids up in my arms and carry them around anymore. But they got heavy and my arms got tired, and I found that I enjoyed walking hand-in-hand with them or watching them go on ahead, strong and independent. It was okay.
From the moment our first child was born, we heard this message from all sides: “Enjoy it while it lasts!” “I’m rocking my baby, and babies don’t keep.” “One day you’ll miss these times!” Everyone implied that as we moved on from the baby phase we’d be bereft. It was as though we were supposed to mourn our babies growing up. And indeed, I cried when our oldest outgrew her newborn-sized diapers at four weeks old.
Many years ago I was talking to a friend about how I felt after my miscarriage. I described having this awful empty feeling in my belly where the baby should have still been. “But Sara,” she asked me, “did you have that same feeling when your belly was empty after giving birth to a living baby?”
Did I? Probably, but the emptiness in my abdomen was nothing compared to the fullness in my arms and my heart. It was a transition, not a loss, and it was okay.
It’s probably in my nature to feel thankful and content with what I have now. Do I miss high school? High school was a phenomenal experience that I’ll never replicate, but I love this time in my life, building a home and raising my kids. Do I miss the newlywed days when Mr. December and I lived downtown and could just decide, at the last minute, to walk across the street for dinner and a movie on a random weeknight? A little. But If we had that, we couldn’t have this. Life changes; the world changes; people change.
My favourite neighbour, Olga (may her memory be a blessing), often said that things would happen “in the fullness of time.” I love that notion. I think that when things change before their time — when someone dies suddenly or too young, when a pregnancy ends in anything other than a live birth, when anything in life gets snatched away without something else arriving in its place — that’s when shock, pain, and grief set in. But in my life, there’s usually a bit of serenity and grace around big changes. I’ve been able to let go of what’s over and embrace what’s coming.
And you know what? It’s been okay.