By Beck

My daughter’s grade four class has had a visitor every other week over the past school year. A baby has come to her class, and the kids charted her development and took pictures of her and sang her songs and this past week, the class baby turned one.

“Babies grow up so fast, don’t they?” said The Girl, wistfully.

And that is, of course, the wistful punchline of parenthood. When my kids were babies, old ladies would say that to me all the time and I would think – in my sullen, sleep-deprived state – “Shut up.” Obviously, infancy would last forever. I would be changing diapers and having week-long days full of wailing babies for the rest of eternity – but it turned out that the old ladies were right and that infancy ends abruptly and suddenly I have a house full of school-aged children. And they are very nice and much more fun to travel with and I have a cheery, diaper-free life – but there’s still that haunting feeling that something was lost while I was distracted, that the things that I should have done will remain undone forever.

I like to pretend that I am the same vaguely youngish age all the time, and it’s only my kids that are geting older and older and older. But my body tells me otherwise – my back hurts, my metabolism apparently HATES me and I have the beginning of crow’s feet sketching around my eyes. And it’s not just my body, but my self – I am more restful now, calmer, saner, and more adult than when I became a mother for the first time in my mid-20s, and I know that The Baby has had a different mother altogether than The Girl. Of course, The Girl is a lovely, well-behaved, considerate child and The Baby is sort of a twerp, so what do I know?

My brother and sister-in-law are expecting their first baby and they are very excited and my heart aches for them, for the heavy, bittersweet knowledge that comes with parenting. They seem so young and vulnerable, so much like babies themselves and like everyone else, they won’t know until it’s too late that childhood ends.


31 Responses to Babies
  1. Meagan Francis
    May 28, 2009 | 12:31 pm

    The thing is, you can know all that and still not KNOW it. You know? Motherhood has a strange way of screwing with time; a day can last a year, and a year can last just a moment. And there’s probably nothing we can do to stave off that moment of regretful wondering at the end “Was I there enough? Did I enjoy it enough?”

  2. Kyla
    May 28, 2009 | 12:41 pm

    A diaper-free existence, I dream of that.

    I like to think that even in the midst of the rushrushrush to get to the next stage, I absorbed enough of it to hold on to and cherish forever.

    Except for the diapers, I KNOW I’ve had enough of the diapers…no need to hold on there.

  3. Chantal
    May 28, 2009 | 1:11 pm

    So sweet, bitter sweet.

  4. Susanne
    May 28, 2009 | 1:14 pm

    I have to say that the thing I didn’t like about that reminder about growing so fast (and I still don’t) was the presumption that I’d want to preserve my son’s baby-ness forever.

    Yes, I do get all emotional while seeing a cuddly, small baby but then I go home thinking, “Thank God I don’t have to do that anymore.”

    Really, I love that he grows older, that he is learning things and going places. And I love the prospect of having my life back eventually.

    So, my bottom line is that I like the idea of having a baby better than the reality of having a baby. In my head it’s all about cuddling a sweet smelling new person that’s all potential but in reality it was walking around the house with a crying infant and craving sleep.

    But then most people remember the first months of their children’s life different than me…

  5. Sharon - Mom Generations
    May 28, 2009 | 1:32 pm

    What a beautiful, mesmerizingly honest post. I, too, was given the “they grow up fast so enjoy it” advice from the old ladies who thought they knew and it turned out that they did know. But what I have realized as a grandmother is that mothers of babies simply cannot know what they don’t know, if you know what I mean. (OK, too many “knows”!) It is only through experience and reflection that wisdom enters our souls. Babies will always need constant care. Parents will always be vulnerable. Introspection will always be in hindsight. And no-one IN IT will ever believe you. Only TIME has the ability and the authority and the willingness to teach… and, of course, the old ladies!!

  6. janet
    May 28, 2009 | 1:40 pm



  7. Heather
    May 28, 2009 | 1:49 pm

    My Baby only just turned 1 year old and I already miss the baby days. And yes, I remember what they are like.

    But I am also looking forward to see what lies ahead.

  8. candace
    May 28, 2009 | 2:10 pm

    I am one that enjoys my son growing up. He learns more things, better able to communicate, and big boy underwear. Sleeping thru the night is great! Probably why I am hesitant to have another one.

  9. Alison
    May 28, 2009 | 2:29 pm

    Yes, I know. I thought infancy would last forever (and I wasn’t happy about that). I love the people my children are now–I love that we can have actual interesting conversations–but I can’t help but wonder if I savored those days enough. I guess there never is really enough time to mother them like we want to.

  10. Charity
    May 28, 2009 | 2:40 pm

    Um, did you read my mind? I have been thinking about this a lot, as my children are ages 4 to 11 and people around me are still having babies. I do enjoy having school-aged children, watching them play hockey and soccer, having discussions with them about what’s going on in the world. But then I remember one of them at 18 months old, standing by the fridge making the sign for milk, or another one at 7 months, sucking her thumb as she snuggled with an old pair of my pajamas. I sometimes feel hit in the gut with the thought that those moments are gone and I will not get them back. Thanks for your post.

  11. Omaha Mama
    May 28, 2009 | 6:10 pm

    I seem to just keep loving every phase and hope it keeps on being that way (teenage years? huh). I can say with fair confidence that I did right by my kids in their infancy and I just hope that will continue to be so too. Sometimes it all just goes so fast…it’s exactly as you’ve written here. Thanks for articulating it so beautifully.

  12. Becky
    May 28, 2009 | 6:36 pm

    Little squisheys are so sweet but I am glad to be done with the “week long days”.

    Great post nonetheless.

  13. Nicole
    May 28, 2009 | 6:38 pm

    SO BEAUTIFUL. And so true.

  14. Mozi Esmes Mommy
    May 28, 2009 | 8:11 pm

    Treasure the moments – I keep telling myself. But sometimes I’m just too tired to do so… 🙂

  15. […] we read Beck’s post, Babies, over at 5 Minutes for Parenting and we just couldn’t help but make sure you didn’t […]

  16. Fussy Baby
    May 28, 2009 | 9:48 pm

    sniff, sniff 🙁 I am one of the ones who did NOT enjoy the infant stage, for the most part, and LOVE that life is starting to get easier. But after reading your post, I’m not so sure…

  17. Alyssa Goodnight
    May 28, 2009 | 10:53 pm

    My body keeps trying to tell me that I’m getting older too–and I keep shushing it.

    I am soooo different now than I was in those first weeks and months after son #1 was born. I hope in a good way, but I think I’ve lost a bit of tolerance and patience. Actually, I know it.

  18. Zina
    May 28, 2009 | 10:57 pm

    I’m TRYING to think how to comment less than post-length.

    I do think I’ve made a real effort to enjoy my kids’ baby-hood, and I have, interspersed with just surviving at times. I felt the mingled relief and nostalgia as my first one grew to need less care but also to be less cuddly and dependent, and I feel it with my 5th, who’s already 3 months old and is growing up faster than any baby ever did. I try to relish every second with her — in between wanting her to leave me alone so I can get a little down time. I’m grateful I was given the advice to enjoy them when they’re little, but there are days when it’s too hard to really enjoy it. I guess the trick is to savor the good moments.

  19. Linsay
    May 28, 2009 | 11:03 pm

    My baby, of 4 children, turns 2 tomorrow and I am in tears after reading this. He is our last, a decision that I am at peace with, but it is painful knowing there will be no more coo’s, no more sleepless nights, no more first steps, no more first teeth, no more first smiles…bitter sweet and painful!

  20. carrien (she laughs at the days)
    May 28, 2009 | 11:44 pm

    My first baby is a lanky 7 year old who is all bony and hard and no longer a good snuggler. And all his kisses are jokes.

    I’m so glad I had a few more babies after he got bigger, when I was finally starting to understand.

  21. Melissa
    May 29, 2009 | 5:13 am

    my first baby is already 4 months and I got no idea how they passed. When I see newborns I already can’t remember him that small. Time yes passes quickly and I don’t want to waste too much of it away from my son as nostalgia I am sure always sets in at some pooint and I don’t want to have any regrets 🙂

  22. Jennifer, Snapshot
    May 29, 2009 | 7:06 am

    Oh–my baby boy just turned five on Wednesday!

    The baby stage is not really my favorite. I love the preschool years, but the reminder that time is passing — for me, for them — that time is really fleeting is always tough to completely understand.

  23. Barbara Schantz
    May 29, 2009 | 7:51 am

    I have two sets of twins, so even when the first ones were babies my attention was divided. Now I feel even more so that way. The younger ones are now 11 months old and are well on their way to toddling, so babyhood is just about done for me. Sad, but fun at the same time. My older twins are 4 1/2 years old and are, as others have said, fun in a different way in that you can play real games with them, discuss things, and hope with some chance of success that they will listen to reason when making a decision. Well, I need to go get my sweet babies out of bed! 🙂

  24. Happy Geek
    May 29, 2009 | 8:12 am

    The line about the comparison between the girl and the baby made me laugh out loud.

  25. Carrie
    May 29, 2009 | 10:10 am

    Awww…I am still in the ‘infancy will last forever’ stage. 🙂 Expecting my 2nd while chasing a one-year old… and wanting more babies after that… 🙂 So, thank you for this perspective. I know it goes fast, but it’s always nice to have a reminder. 🙂

  26. Sus at Wiggle Rooms
    May 29, 2009 | 1:22 pm

    I feel the same way about new parents. And I try very, very hard to squelch the eye-roll when I feel it.

  27. Jennifer
    May 29, 2009 | 2:09 pm

    Sometimes you make me cry, too.

  28. Woman in a window
    May 29, 2009 | 6:14 pm

    Childhood ends.
    Dude, that’s like breaking the Santa theory to me, you know the one, where some people say he’s not real.
    Ssshhhh. Don’t say stuff like that!

  29. Miche
    May 29, 2009 | 8:36 pm

    Oh my goodness, just today I was thinking I couldn’t wait for the kids to get a little older and be able to entertain themselves…now I think I’m going to go snuggle with each of them and tell them to never grow up. 🙂

  30. Jenn
    May 29, 2009 | 10:14 pm

    Wow. You put that stunningly! Just the right word usage. Parenting does bring such joy and yet it is so bittersweet. My sweet baby John-John is 9 months old and so grown up already. He may be my last baby and then that chapter of my life, will be closed.

    Oh, the tears are coming. Now you’ve done it!

  31. Painted Maypole
    May 30, 2009 | 2:03 pm

    i always believed people who said that time flew with kids… i just didn’t realize that it flew quite so quickly

Leave a Reply

Wanting to leave an <em>phasis on your comment?

Trackback URL