I have a flashbulb memory of icing the cupcakes for Lucy’s first birthday. I cried as I made her red and black ladybug cupcakes for “Lucy’s Lady Bug Lunch” I realized in that moment that in the blink of an eye I would be icing Lucy’s second birthday cupcakes… then her tenth birthday cupcakes.
You know, that stage you are struggling to appreciate now, those long days and nights. Because this phase of motherhood you are in—it’s really hard.
At some point in Lucy’s younger years I decided I wasn’t going to be the kind of mom who got really, really sad because my baby was getting older. Every year became my new favorite year. I couldn’t get too sad that she was getting older; the best was yet to come!
And, frankly, every year she gets older, I get better. I get more sleep, more time, more brain power. Win-win.
I started this “not too sad” journey by acknowledging a few things:
- I absolutely won’t know what I am doing for a few months. I never do when she turns a half or whole age. She gets wonky and I need to hurry up and figure out what she needs.
- Since the cusp ages are so hard, I started naming them two to three months before they happen. That is, 11 1/4 becomes “almost 11.5.” 11 3/4 becomes “almost 12.” Some people opt to not call their children the next age until literally the day of. But we prepare for birth physically, mentally, and emotionally for almost a full year. I think each passing year deserves the same.
- I still try to do the same special stuff even though she acts like she doesn’t want it. There are special traditions I have celebrated every year with her, so I try to keep those up. She may think she doesn’t want them, but she does. Or so my book says.
- A have one of these things called “A Book.” Actually, I have had many over the years. I keep them on my bookshelf with all the other books. My most recent Lucy instruction manual is called Untangled. I also occasionally refer to Parenting with Love and Logic when I have more of a behavior issue.
This year, Lucy turns 12. In the two months approaching her birthday, the typical happened. I started called her “almost 12,” she stated acting almost 12, I started (and am currently) hurting and floundering.
This is a different kind of hurt. This is the “she’s pulling away a little more than I’d like” sort of ache. I’d dare say that she’s “self-weaning.”
I know, though. The best is yet to come. The next phase will pass in the blink of an eye. She won’t grow to hate me and be mean to me if I respect her and demand she show me respect. I know I raised and I am raising her well.
I know that letting go of my baby is so much harder than having a baby who won’t let go.