When Ethan was born (I have decided to dispense with the nicknames, either out of cynicism or naivete, not sure which), I was in love with this tiny little baby. As soon as the nurse put him on my chest, I knew I wanted to do that again, I wanted another child. I had never felt such love. I walked around the house for two weeks with a dopey expression on my face, like a lovestruck teenager. I spent time just watching him. We napped in the afternoons on the couch, Ethan on my chest, scooting up so that his head was right under my chin. I would move him down so that I could breathe, and he would scoot right back up under my chin. Then something happened...
Ethan became a toddler. He walked, ran, talked. He had opinions, most of which were not aligned to my own. He napped in his own bed, when he napped. He hit, he yelled, "No!", he refused to hug his grandmother, refused to consume anything but goldfish and apple juice.
Where was my sweet baby, the one who lay on my chest, with his head under my chin?
It was an adjustment, to say the least. And it didn't happen suddenly - he didn't go from a babbling, gummy-smiling baby to a defiant toddler overnight. But I was certainly thrown for a loop. I still loved him, of course, but now I also fought with him, bargained, bribed, negotiated.
We napped separately, when we napped at all. I couldn't even see the baby in the face of this little boy, though I knew they were the same person.
It happened on our trip a couple of weeks ago. I was giving Ethan a bath and a look crossed his face. I saw him. I saw the baby he used to be. I nearly fell over. I also fell in love again. I looked at myself in the mirror and the dopey expression had returned.
I have another grinning, sweet, cuddly baby now - Ethan's brother Micah. I know that soon enough, he'll be an opinionated, defiant toddler. But I pray that I can always see the baby he is now.
When I was pregnant with Ethan, a co-worker gave me great advice. She said, "When my son was born, everyone said, 'Wait till he's two!' and I decided then and there to enjoy him at every age. I enjoyed him when he was two and I enjoy him now that he's a teenager and I'll enjoy him when he's forty. Enjoy your kids, no matter what age they are."
That's what I'm trying to do with my boys - enjoy them more every day instead of wondering where my babies went.