I confess that for the past eight months I have been in a bit of a melancholy funk. I think it's a mid-life crisis of sorts. It started when my youngest went off to kindergarten and continued through the fall and winter until it snowballed with my 40th birthday in early spring. It's a wonder I'm able to get out of bed each morning.
When my oldest went off to kindergarten I didn't experience any feelings of remorse. It's not that I don't like her, or didn't miss her, but life was a lot easier with only one of them at home. Plus, she is a very independent child. I often joke that if she could drive and get a job at age 8 she would probably move out and live in her own apartment. Sometimes her independence makes me wistful, but mostly it makes me proud.
My youngest is of a different temperament. It could be because he is the youngest, it could be because he's a boy. It could be because that's just who he is. Whatever the reason he just seems more fragile, more vulnerable. And I miss him terribly now that he is gone all day. In fact just acknowledging that in writing brings tears to my eyes even though he is currently in the other room blowing things up with his Star Wars action figures.
My son has two stuffed dogs - Pup Pup and Pup Pup (he got my creative genes). Apparently he can tell them apart and one is *sad* Pup Pup and the other is *happy* Pup Pup. We have no idea why they are either sad nor happy. He has slept with one grasped in each hand, tucked under his sleeping body, since he was three months old. He has never slept a night without them. Now that he is six and desperately trying to grow up I know that the time is fast approaching when he will put them away in the closet. And that is when my heart will break. At this point I think I need Pup Pup and Pup Pup more than he does.
For some odd reason my oldest seems to represent growth and potential, whereas my youngest represents time passing too quickly. Things that will never come again, like dancing to the Wiggles or sitting on the curb of a construction site and spending countless hours watching and talking about all the trucks. I know it's not fair. With my daughter I have always been in such a rush to accomplish milestones. And while I wouldn't say that I actively thwart my son in his attempts to achieve independence I am not in a rush to move onto the next thing.
We have a garage that is chock full of stuff. There are boxes upon boxes in there, taking up valuable real estate that could be used to park a car. Since last summer I have been methodically going through the boxes of baby and toddler clothes trying to divest myself of this load. I open a box and start sorting, tossing the items that I didn't realize are stained or otherwise ruined when they were packed away. Then there is a pile to give away to friends or charity. And as I go through the boxes I am usually okay for the first or second, but at some point I get choked up by a memory that one of the outfits triggers and I need to stop.
I go back inside our house and see my beautiful, perfect children as they are right now and I am no longer sad. I realize that at some point I will look back at this point in their childhood and be wistful as well. But for now I need to revel in how they are in the present.
When I talk about how much I miss my children's baby and toddler years friends jokingly tell me I should have another baby. But the problem is I don't want another baby, I just miss the babies I already had.