Recently a mom friend rocked up to the school-yard with her latest accessory: a brand new bundle of squirmy baby-liciousness. Within moments, every woman within a hundred foot radius who still possessed vaguely functioning ovaries felt a primordial tug toward her. As one multi-limbed Earth Mother entity we made our way over to her to coo and coddle, goo and gaa, and just plain marvel at that new little life swaddled and peaceful in the dappled autumn light.
For one quick heartbeat, one small butterfly wing stroke of time, I felt a twinge of longing. You know the one. In that briefest of blinks, I felt a pang. For just a flicker, I mourned the idea of never again feeling a new life kick within me, at never again smelling the scent of possibility that hides in the folds of a newborn’s skin.
And then…oh then the sun went behind a cloud. Or maybe I blinked, or exhaled away from that yummy baby bundle. The flicker was quickly replaced by the hundreds of things I don’t miss about having babies around, about having toddlers around, about having little ones who require my constant supervision and conversation around. I shook off that momentary longing and firmly planted myself back in the realm of thank God my kids are older and I can pee by myself territory.
Gosh, there are so many, many things I don’t miss about having little ones anymore. I don’t miss diaper bags bursting at the seams with baggies full of snacks and cups of Cheerios. I don’t miss sippy cups, cleaning out valves and replacing straws. I don’t miss reaching for the last baby wipe only to find it dry and useless. I don’t miss triple checking I have a pocket full of matchbox cars before every outing. I don’t miss the constant redirection of a frustrated toddler; the impossible exercise of explaining why it’s not ok to scream in line at the bank even though it’s exactly what I want to do too. I don’t miss the mindless chatter, the pointing out and naming, the never-ending one-sided conversation of life with a baby and toddler.
I don’t miss traveling with a stroller and a car seat and extra diapers just in case. I don’t miss trying to explain to a nine month old why 4:55 am is not a reasonable wake up time. I don’t miss interrupted sleep. I don’t miss filling the long hours of nap free days with things to do and places to go. I don’t miss the pockets full of rubber bands and bottle caps. The twigs and rocks and socks full of sand.
I don’t miss cribs or high chairs, bouncy seats or Baby Bjorns. I don’t miss the jigsaw puzzle pieces of a five point harness or contorting myself to put my child in backward in a two door car. I don’t miss spit up or poop-plosions or the sickly sweet cloying scent of the diaper pail. I don’t miss trying to contain the flailing limbs of a tantrumming toddler or playing “Baby throw the spoon on the floor six hundred times and Mommy picks it up.”
I don’t miss the boredom or the monotony of life with small children, the strict obsessive routine to avoid meltdowns. I don’t miss worrying about crying fits in restaurants or booking a flight at the right time to avoid tears. I don’t miss counting down the hours to bedtime. I don’t miss mashing up food or making pasta with butter for dinner 349 nights of the year. I don’t miss cutting grapes in half or quartering hot dogs.
I don’t miss the way my heart bleed out during bouts of separation anxiety or the way time stopped the first time someone rolled off the bed. I don’t miss the guilt, the anxiety, the neurotic chasing around the playground with a tofu dog. I don’t miss the hawk like vigilance every time a small body of water was nearby or chasing them around the parking lot of Applebees while other people ate hot food that wasn’t cut up into minute bits. I don’t miss changing poopy diapers in small airline bathrooms or dirty playgrounds. I don’t miss asking do you have to pee? sixty-eight time a day.
I don’t miss feeling like I was missing out on conversations or grown-upness or second guessing every thing I did or didn’t do. I don’t miss the pointed questions designed to place me in a parenting ‘type’. I don’t miss hoarding screen time or all the nevers I swore I would never do.
I don’t miss any of that.
Of course in the space of that blink, that breath, I remembered too. I remember it all: the way my babies folded up into me like tiny, little hedgehogs, the way a fist curled around my finger, that milk-sweet breath on my cheek. I remember the way their eyes opened in the morning and sought me out, how “Mama” was the first thing they asked for in the morning and the last thing they asked for before going to sleep. I remember the way they kicked and stretched in a jazzy womb dance, a ballet to the soundtrack of my heart. I remember watching in amazement as that second line turned pink and how everything, absolutely everything, changed in those tiny moments of time.
Oh there is much I don’t miss, but don’t be misled.
I would do it again in a heartbeat, in a flicker, in a small butterfly wing stroke of time.
I wouldn’t change a thing.