All the baby/parenting books I have read have there own method of covering all the major milestones from first smiles, first steps and first teeth. Those milestones continue well after the first year as your child continues to grow, develop and experience firsts and I would say that most books cover those topics quite extensively. But what about the lasts? Sure you read a lot of theories about how to get your child to sleep through the night in their own bed, take away the bottle and/or pacifier and potty train but do they really talk about how that feels or how you are supposed to handle it the last time you ever nurse or when you suddenly realize your house has no remnants of a baby or toddler save for the pictures that hang on your wall?
We knew Jadyn would be our second and last child and I am perfectly fine with that. I don't ever regret that decision or ache to have another baby. In fact, after Jadyn's first birthday their was very little I would miss about no longer having an infant. Sure they are a bundle of joy and I enjoyed (almost) every minute of it but Joe and I were both glad to be past the "baby" phase. Let's face it, babies are a lot of work!
It's hard to see your little ones grow up and especially when it seems to happen so quickly and don't get me wrong, that has always been the case with Jake. But Jake was his own beast and he held on to things for so long that when he ultimately quit nursing at 21 months, I'll I could think was FINALLY! When he ultimately learned to fall asleep without me next to him, I'll I could think was FINALLY! When he potty trained at 3 1/2 I'll I could think was FINALLY! Maybe part of me didn't get nostalgic because I always knew I had Jadyn behind him but really I think it was because I was genuinely relieved.
With Jadyn, it has been entirely different. I will never forget that faithful day on October 6th, 2007 when Jadyn gave up her last nursing session. I felt rejected, lost and sad. She was 16 months and I knew it was coming. It happened gradually and without a fight like any Mom would wish but despite knowing we were both ready, it was still a very hard last to come to terms with. The first morning I woke up and realized my night's sleep had not been interrupted by Jadyn's waking, what I should have felt was refreshed and triumphant but instead I'll I felt was fear and trepidation. It was almost like Jadyn no longer needed me. Just in the last 6 months, we have said good-bye to diapers, pacifiers and sippy cups - all telltale signs that you have a baby or toddler in the house. While I am proud of all we have accomplished, don't I get a chance to stare at the empty space in my cupboards and drawers and mourn for just a moment? With Jake it was always FINALLY but with Jadyn it seems more like a finality. A finality that happened WAY TOO FAST!
I know that part of my mourning comes from the fact that I really truly enjoyed the toddler years, probably much more so that infanthood. It makes it harder to say good-bye. I want to hold on to the cute little way Jadyn mispronounces the word refrigerator or leaves out the L sound in the word girl for as long as possible because experience has proven that before I know it, those little quirks will be gone. But then again, toddlerhood can be a trying time. I can do without the temper tantrums and whining and not understanding what in the world your child wants because they can't verbalize it. I am not sad that I no longer have to change poopy diapers or become paralyzed with fear because its bedtime and someones favorite paci is nowhere to be found. There is stuff that I am more than happy to say goodbye to.
The other day Jadyn and I were at the dollar store picking up last minute supplies for her birthday party when the checker commented on how cute Jadyn was and how she obviously had a birthday approaching. I kindly replied that yes, she was going to be turning three this Sunday. The checker grinned and then told me what has to be the WORST thing to say to a parent who is about to have her last child leave the age of two. She said: The terrible twos never really end. They just get worse and worse with every passing year.
And so I did what any parent of a child that is about to turn 3 would do. I just smiled and gave her a look that said, "You have got to be kidding me!" And no doubt each age and stage has its own unique set of hurdles (3 = defiance, 4 = why, 5= attitude) but I wouldn't really agree with the checker's words of warning. Because I also know that each age and stage also comes with its own unique set of advantages and triumphs and that while it can be sad and sometimes hard to let go, that most important thing is that with each passing day, week, month and year I get to witness my children grow up and be a part of this amazing journey known as parenting.
Here is a preview of the soon to be birthday girl with her first present; a litter of pug puppies from Grandma and Grandpa White. I thought it would be nice to get a picture of her as she usually is at the end of the day, with her pigtails a little worse for wear and enough energy to still ham it up at the dinner table. She is our little princess but our little toddler no more.