A little bitter with an abundance of sweet.
August 04, 2010

The best and the worst part of parenthood is this: the baby grows up.

This is, of course, what a parent wants more than anything in the world.  As a mother, there is nothing that matters more to me than securing a future for my daughter.

When I was pregnant, this was of enormous concern to me.  The baby squirming within my body felt like a shadow of a child and although I loved the IDEA of the family my husband and I were building, I did not feel particularly maternal.  And that, oh, that scared the shit out of me.  I worried that I would not love – truly love – my child.

All that worry for naught.  If I had known then what I know now, I would have spent that energy on something much more fun.  Like, say, devouring chocolate.

When I think back on it, it astounds me that it ever occurred to me that I might not adore my daughter.  Because as soon as soon as I heard her bleating cry and saw my husband cradling her, calling her our beautiful girl, I was hooked.  I would lay down my life in a heartbeat, no questions asked, no doubts in mind or fears at heart, to provide my daughter with a tomorrow.

So it warms the very corners of my soul to find that a sturdy and adventurous toddler has replaced the flimsy, helpless infant I birthed.  A time will come when a curious and joyous child will replace that toddler.  A teenager will replace that child, an adult will replace that teenager, an old woman will replace that adult.  And then, one day, when her hair is silver and her skin is wrinkled and she has lived fully and loved deeply, my daughter’s life will end.

We all owe this world a death; I can accept that.  But that means that the baby who once stirred in my womb grew up.  And it saddens me that my baby is growing up.  It kills me that the child I adored yesterday is not the child I will cherish tomorrow, that she is different.  Bigger.  Faster.  Stronger.  One day farther from her first breath and closer to her last.

My daughter is my greatest love and I know that it would shatter me to the very core if she never grew up.  There is no joy like that of a parent whose child is thriving, no happiness like that of a mother who knows that right now, in this moment, her child is safe and cheerful and growing.

But it still breaks my heart, just a little bit, just around the edges, that the tiny baby to whom I gave my heart is gone.  She’s gone and I can never have her back.

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  1. By on August 04, 2010

    The parental job description sucks. If you do it well, the little critter that you love beyond your own life itself, will wave bye-bye and take off to their own life without a pang, a backward look.  WHO INVENTED THIS?  And yet each of us has done it to our parents.  Dave Barry wrote a beautiful column when his then 12 year old son was in a serious bike accident. Here is the link. http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19930705&slug=1709661

    I think he summed it up better than anyone else. I particularly loved the phrase “This comet bright boy who streaked his way into my universe 12 years ago and is already starting to arc his way back out.“

  2. By on August 04, 2010

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Every night when I put my daughter down for the night I know she’ll wake up older. The days go by so fast. I just want to grab time and hug it endlessly so it doesn’t get away from me.

  3. By Mallory on August 04, 2010

    I feel exactly the same. I’m so glad Des is healthy and growing up, buy so sad that he’s not my little baby anymore. I was just telling my mom that the other day and started to get teary eyed. I can’t imagine how much I’m going to lose it when he starts kindergarten.

  4. By on August 04, 2010

    I feel the same way. My youngest is now almost 2 and looking back at his birth he looked so small and tiny. He is now a active toddler running and learning new things every day.  It makes me sad to see but also happy. Each stage though brings somehting new and fun to discover with your child. Enjoy every moment.

  5. By Sarah on August 04, 2010

    I love this post. I am the same way. My oldest is starting kindergarten this fall and it is killing me. Where does the time go??

  6. By on August 04, 2010

    Beautiful post.

    I am one year away from mine being TEENAGERS. I think about these very thoughts day after day. I’m so happy they are healthy and thriving———but why don’t they fit on my lap anymore? It’s a daily struggle in my head.

    Virtual hug,

  7. By Jasmine on August 04, 2010

    Love it and hate it

  8. By Catherine on August 04, 2010

    I feel exactly the same, too.  Bittersweet.  Sad and joyful.  Wanting time to slow, happy that they are growing.  I want nothing more than their lives to flourish and develop, yet I want nothing more than to hold them this way forever, always my babies.  *le sigh.

  9. By Crystal on August 04, 2010

    ughh…this makes me sad. My little man is turning one next week and I try not to think about it. On the other hand I get so excited for all the things he is now doing and learning.

  10. By on August 04, 2010

    That is one thing about parenthood no one can ever explain to you or prepare you for.  Its a strange mix of sadness and excitedness all together, isn’t it?

  11. By C @ Kid Things on August 04, 2010

    But just think of the alternative. It is sad, but it’s also one of the most rewarding joys to watch that little blob grow into the person they’ll become. My oldest is going to be 7 in a few months and my thoughts aren’t really how did he get to be 7 already, though I do think that too, but mostly, how did I get to be old enough to have a 7 year old kid?

  12. By on August 04, 2010

    it’s so heart-breaking isn’t it?
    I hate seeing them grow up on me,
    it’s fun, joyous, amazing
    filled with love, but it’s difficult
    to watch sometimes!
    mine are 9 and 10 years old now,
    and I would give ANYTHING to hold them as
    a baby again, just for a day! Even though, I spent ALL of my time with them, it’s never enough!!! I miss those days! ENJOY every second!

  13. By Dandy on August 04, 2010

    What an incredible thought process. 

    I’m excited for the baby to come but I am so content having him here with me- inside me right now.

    We will never be as close as we are now.  Physically linked.

  14. By Amber @ Nater Tot on August 04, 2010

    Oh, Sarah. You just made me cry. I don’t think it could possibly be said better or more accurately. It’s what I think about every day. I want more than anything for my son to have a long, full, happy life. But it is heartbreaking that I lose my baby as a result. Reading this just after my mom gave me Love You Forever (have you read that?!) - is too much. My eyes will absolutely be puffy tomorrow morning.

  15. By on August 04, 2010

    Very dear. And so true. But then, again, it’s also true that tomorrow you will always look back and feel that way. And it kind of takes away from today. I had the wonderful experience of being a totally good mother..involved, present, focused and totally involved…and no matter how much I know I was all that…the days passed and he’s all grown and gone now. And even though I know in my heart of hearts I did not waste any time….I still wish I could go back and do it again. It’s the circle of life. And it never ends.

  16. By Megan R. on August 05, 2010

    Just been experiencing the same flutter of emotions as my “baby” Finnley turned one over the past weekend.  And, she has started walking.  More a toddler now.  Sigh…

    At the same time…she is so much fun, how can I miss too much who she was given who she is now?  Bittersweet!

  17. By tracey on August 05, 2010

    People often ask me if we’re “done” having kids and I sigh and say yes. It’s not that I want another baby; it’s that I want my OLD babies BACK…

  18. By Heidi on August 11, 2010

    Thank you Mitzie for posting that Dave Barry link.

    I’ve got another good one for you: Steve Jobs’ 2005 Standford commencement address.






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