My daughter Gillian turned five years old last week. When I took her shopping for a special outfit to wear at her birthday party nothing in the baby department fit her, so we bought her a skirt from the "big girl" section. The skirt is sparkly, flouncy and covered in hot pink polka dots. It suits her perfectly. In fact, she barely glanced at the pale pink and purple clothes in the baby section. On the eve of her birthday she slept in that skirt and, when I called her "my baby" as I tucked her in, rather than kissing me she stuck out her tongue and declared that in the morning she wouldn't be my baby anymore.
She's right, though. And it's something that I am OK with because, as adorable as my kids were as babies, I don't miss the newborn and toddler stages at all. (That being said, I confess I tweeted Today's Parent Social Media Editor Haley Overland about crying in the greeting card aisle at the drug store recently.)
For me, the baby stage was a frantic time when I felt like I could barely keep my head above water. As a stay-at-home mom, I put pressure on myself to curate a picture-perfect childhood for my kids, full of playdates and homemade cookies. My reality, however, was very different—I was stressed and tired. Maybe that's why I don't feel sad about leaving the baby stage behind.
Here's what I really won't miss:
Diapers While newborn diapers are fairly benign, once my kids started solids my husband and I would play Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who would be the unlucky parent on diaper duty. I lost... a lot. I switched to cloth diapers for my daughter and any warm and fuzzy feelings I have about improving the environment evaporated when I was elbow-deep in my diaper pail.
Breastfeeding I have some very wonderful memories of breastfeeding my children, but I also have memories of being so sick and feverish from mastitis that laying down on my kitchen floor by the air conditioner to nurse was the only thing that felt good. I nursed both my children for an extended period and when they weaned as toddlers, as much as I missed the special cuddles, I was happy to claim autonomy over my breasts again (what was left of them, anyway).
Infant toys There must be some sort of mathematical equation that the smaller the baby, the bigger the toys must be. And what’s with every infant toy requiring $30 worth of D cell batteries? Exersaucers, play yards, noisy plastic toys and enormous stuffed animals were among the first of the baby toys to be banished from my house once we decided that two kids was enough for us.
Having school-age kids feels so much more exciting to me. As their personalities and interests develop, here are the things I'm most looking forward to the most:
Reading I got goosebumps the first time Isaac read aloud to me, and this is by far my favourite milestone. Seeing my kids lose themselves in books is a joy (Bonus: it means I don’t have to read them another Dora the Explorer book in my life.)
Active adventures I was very active before my kids were born, but my favourite sports were benched for the last few years. As I work to get back into a fitness routine, I love to have my kids ask to join me on a bike ride, snowshoe trek or run. Isaac, in particular, has shown a love of cycling and, combined with his energy, he will be hard to keep up with this summer.
Sleeping through the night Oh, never mind. My kids aren’t there yet.
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