And just like that, they’re not babies anymore

I watched an old video of my oldest kiddo recently when she was crawling around our house, dragging her bright yellow cast around with her. She broke her tibia days after she had just proudly taken her first steps. Her walking paused, but her determination did not. She kept getting where she needed to go. Clunking around, from room to room.

The other day, she was riding her bike—zooming around without training wheels, asking if she could go way up ahead without us. And out of nowhere, I thought to myself…

Just like that, they're not babies anymore.

Just. Like. That.

Poof!

My 3-year-old must loudly declare, "I have to poop!"—anytime, anywhere—before she does a dramatic pause then dashes off to the bathroom. I laugh every time. And yesterday after her announcement, I went in to check on her and she promptly gave me the hand when I walked in. "I got dis, Mom!" she said without a doubt. "Wow! Good job," I said. (You don't fully "got dis", but love the confidence!) "Mama still has to check, okay?" She grumbled out an okay and we finished up and washed our hands.

I have changed hundreds upon hundreds of your diapers, I thought to myself. And now you want to do it all on your own? Not wiping poop is great, don't get me wrong(!) but it is weird because it reminds you—they actually don't *need* you for everything like they once did. They still need you for *a lot* sure, but still—not *everything*.

Just like that, they're not babies anymore.

My middle kiddo will start kindergarten in the fall and I'm already feeling anxious about it. He's sensitive and sweet, a wise old soul in a 5-year-old body. He'll make friends and will learn so many new things and he'll expand his horizons and it'll be great.

I know it'll be great.

But wasn't it yesterday he needed me to carry him around everywhere because he didn't want to sit in his bouncer or swing? Now he's just going to go off into the world on his own?


Without me?

Just like that, they're not babies anymore.

My almost 7-year-old is losing teeth left and right. She currently has no front teeth at all. The way she pronounces some words has changed, her whole smile has drastically changed! Helping to gently ease her most recent tooth out reminded my nostalgic heart that it was once my job to help ease her pain when teeth came in.

There were many nights filled with tears and extra hours of breastfeeding or rocking or Motrin—soothing of any kind—to help my baby's gums. How'd all these years go by so fast? Will we be at the orthodontist getting braces next month?

Just like that, they're not babies anymore.

Often, I'll still lay with one of my children to help them fall asleep at bedtime. I don't have to, but it sure makes things easier. I know the need for this is dwindling each night and truth be told— I'll never be like the mom in Love You Forever sneaking into her grown son's home across town to rock him to sleep—so for now, when my middle asks me to climb into his bottom bunk so he can cuddle under my arm, I'll happily oblige.

Because there was a time I did this every single night for him for hours. I'd rock, nurse, bounce, shush—all the things—until I could calm my baby down. Until his big blue eyes would close.

Now, it just takes a few minutes and a few requests for water or a story.

Just like, they're not babies anymore.

My littlest has grown so much between ages two and three. She dropped regular naps, learned how to swim, potty trained, weaned from breastfeeding—went from needing me for everything to needing me for some things. (Well, she doesn't think she needs me for anything, but I am the buzzkill reminder that she does.) No opinion to strong opinion. She went from toddler to kid in the blink of an eye.

Does it always just feel like your youngest was *just* born because they're your youngest? I mean, I swear, we just brought her home.

Just like that, they're not babies anymore.

Watching them grow into the people they're becoming is the greatest honor of my life. Our family is complete and I don't plan on having any more babies, so maybe that's it—just coming to terms with closing this chapter of my life. The no more babies chapter.

Because, honestly, I can remember the day I met each of my children with fierce clarity. I can smell the lavender essential oil, I can feel my contractions, I can taste the turkey sandwich I had after my delivery. I can recall the wonder, the amazement, the hard work. The teamwork. Their tiny fingers, their wild heads of hair. I can still hear their newborn yelp.

I can still remember, even now while I look at their seven, five, and three-year-old selves.

Just like that, they're not babies anymore.

My babies may not be babies anymore but they'll always be my babies.

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