Our Last Day

Our Last Day

My Sweet Baby Carrot,

Today was our last day together. This weekend your older siblings will be home with us, and the next time they go to school, you will go too. You’re finally entering the world of full-time kindergarten, and you could not be more excited! Me, on the other hand…

When you were born, you came home to 3-year-old and 1-year-old siblings, and your life was LOUD. There has always been someone talking, crying, pooping, eating, spilling, whining, laughing, pushing, throwing, bouncing, banging, squealing, and all.of.the.noises all around you. When you were a baby, I put you in the swing so I could go to the bathroom, and I would come back to find you buried in toys your brother lovingly wanted to share. (He was maybe less concerned about you breathing under there, but boy did he love you!) When I got overwhelmed and needed a “quiet minute,” your big sister would push your crawling diaper-bottom into the bedroom before I lost my marbles. You were always a year ahead of schedule with your activities and interests because you just wanted to do whatever the big kids were doing.

I thought I knew you.

Then two years ago, your Irish twin brother went off to kindergarten, and it was just you and me. Well, there was a newborn too, but – much to your disappointment – he wasn’t much of a playmate, and he didn’t laugh or do anything funny yet. Still, he was a good baby, and most of the time, it felt like you were all mine, and I was all yours. Before then, you had gone to preschool a few days a week, but changes in our family meant now you would stay home all the time. I thought you would get bored. I thought you would miss your brother and sister. I thought you wouldn’t like being with me.

Turns out, I didn’t really know you.

I learned that you love reading more than playing ball, like you always did with your brother. You like puzzles and songs, and you would rather watch Barney than Spiderman. We went to library storytime, which was always just too hectic when your siblings were home, and your favorite part was cutting out shapes, even when you struggled. You are the most determined human being I have ever met, and you keep trying, trying, trying, until you get it right. We went to the park and you climbed to the tip-top of the jungle gym without any help, because I was pushing the baby, and you were so proud. I was so proud. I am so proud of you.

That boring little newborn turned into a silly toddler who absolutely adores you. You sing to him, make him laugh, and get him out of his crib when he wakes up early from nap. You help him up the steps on the Chick-fil-A playground, and you hold his hand when he falls and carry him to mommy. You’re his best friend.

Sweet Carrot, you have become my best friend.

I’ve never spent as many hours with any single human being as I have spent with you. You love helping me clean; you see it as acting like a grown-up rather than a chore. And you would do chores all day long if I promised you 20 minutes of uninterrupted attention at the end of it, as has often been our arrangement. You just love spending time with me; I don’t think I have ever felt so wanted as I have from you. I think you like moaning, “Moooomm, get off your phone!” because you know it’s an instant guilt trip, and I’ll stop everything to look you in the eyes. You have helped me shop, run countless errands, held the baby while I used the public restroom or taken too long at the customer service desk.

I love that you call your action figures “little toys” and want to make houses for them to live in together, like I used to do with my brothers. I love playing basketball with you in the driveway while the baby naps, and you always beat me. (Okay, maybe I’m terrible, but for a 5-year-old, you had serious skills!) I love making you breakfast of two-eggs-scrambled-with-cheese-and-salt-and-pepper with three pieces of toast-cut-like-a-circle: one with butter, one with jelly, one with butter and jelly. I love the way you say it exactly like that every morning. I love the wild stories you tell and the passion with which you tell them. I love how you walk into the library, grab the most random books off the shelf – always at least three more than I tell you to get – and remain firmly committed to checking out those books, no matter how strange of choices they end up being. You just want a reason for me to read to you. And of course you never let me forget to get board books for the baby, easy readers for brother, and chapter books for sister, even though none of them are even aware of this library excursion.

You want everyone to experience the joy you have.

You have helped me make countless new friends by attending playdates with strangers-to-you and jumping right into relationship with their kids so the mommies could talk. You listened to me go on and on about the women’s suffrage memorial on the day after the election, even though you didn’t understand what I was saying, but you could tell it was important to me. Then you helped me eat too many farmers’ market cookies, because it was a good day for cookies. You are painfully unaffectionate, but with a reluctant “oookaaayyyy,” you let me cuddle you when I’m having a hard day.

Today was one of those days.


To continue reading, please visit Knoxville Moms Blog, where this post originally appeared on August 24, 2017.

Advertisements

I Just Miss You Today

kids-250844_1920

Sweet baby,
I miss you today.

As we turned the corner into a new year, I realized it has been almost 4 years since I saw you last. Four years ago on my (our) birthday, I woke up knowing I wouldn’t ever hold you in my arms. Instead I stroked your delicate body with my index finger when I saw you on my maxi pad. You were beautiful, formed exactly as you should have been at 6 1/2 weeks gestation. But your heart had stopped its tiny beating, and your cells had stopped their rapid splitting, and my heart was cut deeply when your life was cut short.

I just miss you today.

Today, four years later, I’m sitting on a new couch in a new house watching Daniel Tiger with your baby brother. I imagined moving to this house with you. Our Bonus Baby just had a bath after drawing on his face with markers, a funny little habit your big brother, my Sweet Prince, had when he was a toddler. He always loved wearing costumes and insisted on drawing on his “mask” to be more authentic. I wonder if you would have liked costumes like your brothers do? Of course he taught Little Carrot to draw on his face too, because Carrot did everything just like our Prince. They have always been built-in best friends, and I’m so glad they still are.

I wish Bonus had you.

You would have been born in October, and I conceived our Bonus in December. I have never felt like our rainbow baby was a replacement baby, because you had a place in our family. You could have been born, and so could he, and then there would be 5 of you, and my heart would grow all the more to make room. You and Bonus would have been built-in best friends. You would be in the bathtub together after drawing all over each other with marker, and instead of watching Daniel Tiger you would be playing dress up. Maybe you would be teaching him about lipstick or fighting over the orange football. You would get the pink cup and he would get the green one, but as a 3-year-old, you might decide you only want your milk in a blue cup today, because that’s what 3-year-olds do. That’s what you would do, if you were here.

I just miss you today. 

If you were here, the days would be louder. I would spend an hour trying to get you and Bonus to nap at the same time in your shared room, or maybe I would put you in my bed to keep you from playing. At lunch time I could cut your sandwich into the shape of a hippo and Bonus’ in the shape of a dinosaur, and you would each pretend to be your animal while you ate. I would still be cutting your grapes when you’re 3 because you two giggle so much when you’re chomping on snacks. You would dance in tutus and make Bonus play the prince to your princess. “I so pretty, brubber?” you would say. I can hear you two jabbering in your little toddler language as you snuggle under a blanket fort to watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on the iPad.

Because every time I look at Bonus, I see you. I see what could have been, the life I expected and not the one I’m living. Don’t get me wrong, the life you are living right now is perfect, and I can’t wait to live it with you one day. But sometimes it hurts, and today is one of those days. Whenever I look at your little brother,

I just miss you.

To My Fourth Child…

To My Fourth Child

Photo used with permission by Stephanie Lancaster of Adara Photography.

Hi Baby,

I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since we welcomed you into our family. It’s been a wild ride already, hasn’t it? People always say you’re the happiest baby in the world, and I know it’s because you’re so loved by so many people. You would never know it, but things are a lot different for you than your big sister and brothers.

When your sister was born, things were much…quieter. She had a room all to herself, full of brand new pink baby things that belonged only to her. In the mornings she would wake up early, and Daddy and I would hear her laughing and talking to herself as she started to stir. During the day, she got love and snuggles from so many people at day care while Mommy and Daddy went to work, and we were both so anxious to give her our undivided attention when we got home! At bedtime, we would gently rock in the glider, singing sweet, quiet songs as she drifted off to sleep.

You, dear child…

Well, that story probably sounds like a fairy tale to you. Your room is shared with big sister’s furniture, clothes, and 8-year-old girl stuff. The only thing in there that belongs to you is your crib and pile of diapers in the top dresser drawer. Those are pretty much the only things that belong to you period, since everything else is a hand-me-down from someone. You are almost always awoken abruptly by a sibling who either does’t understand the word “whisper” or several who are fighting over who gets to hold you first. During the day we shuffle back and forth to the gym, Walmart, Chick-fil-A, and…well, those are pretty much the only places we go. You spend as much time in your car seat in an average week as any of your siblings did in a month. And bedtime? HA! It’s more like a circus, complete with clowns, acrobatics, and plenty of animal noises. Rather than peacefully laying you in your quiet bed to drift off as your sleep-trained older siblings did, Daddy and I take turns hurriedly bouncing you (the glider is in my room serving as a holder of clean laundry I probably will never fold) because you’re over-tired thanks to the big kids who make way too much noise for you to sleep when you want to.

When your brothers were your age, they had playmates. Our Prince Charming had big sister, just two years his senior, then he became a middle child at just about your age when Sweet Carrot came along. Those two boys have always been inseparable. Mommy started staying home when Sweet Carrot was born, and our mornings were filled with costumes and sword fights and coloring each other with markers when Mommy wasn’t looking. Now two of your siblings are in elementary school, and the other one would rather play by himself than with you most of the time. He just doesn’t seem to appreciate the way you chew on his action figures and throw them across the room, does he? You don’t seem to mind too much, though, as long as there’s a roll of toilet paper to unravel because Mommy forgot to shut the bathroom door again.

There are a lot of things you don’t have. You don’t have a keepsake box because I keep forgetting to buy one (but there is a pile on my dresser…), I already lost the lock of hair from your first trim (in my defense, you tried to eat it while I was helping sister with a project, and it got scattered), and you didn’t even have a first birthday party (you won’t remember, it’s cool). I don’t read to you unless you overhear me helping the big kids with their homework, and I don’t flinch when you eat Cheerios off the floor. (Sweet Carrot probably put them there for you.) You don’t have much 1-on-1 time with me, and sometimes I wonder if you’re getting the short end of the stick.

And then I remember your tribe.


To continue reading this post, please click here to view the full version on Knoxville Moms Blog!