It’s been a while since I strapped my daughters into a carrier. It’s been many moons ago or so it seems that I put them over my shoulder with a cloth to burp them. It seems like it’s been several years since I was carrying around a diaper bag.
I certainly don’t miss the changing diaper days or cleaning up upchucked milk off my clothes or the tantrums.
However, I do miss those wonderful one-on-one moments where you can feel new life bursting in your arms. I remember holding them for the first time, looking into their eyes, and feeling so vulnerable and protective.
It’s a parent’s instinct. At that moment, my first thoughts were, “You are the most beautiful sight in the world…and if anyone hurts you in any way, I will hurt them back.”
My daughters are now well on their way to forging their own lives in this mixed-up world. I am still as protective as ever, more vigilant you might say. I am wary of anyone who may seem to want to take advantage of them. I am very aware of the cruelties of this world and I warn them so.
They have grown into beautiful, caring, intelligent women.
It’s taken me a while to even think of them as women and not children. Of course, they will always be my children.
My youngest recently had to bring home a baby simulator. This baby was part of a classroom assignment. This baby did what most babies did during the weekend. The baby cried. Often. The baby demanded attention. Often. The baby needed to be fed. Often. The baby needed to be changed. Often.
It was a good test for my daughter to understand the total dedication needed to take care of a child. It was a reminder to her that mommy and daddy didn’t have such a picnic taking care of her too.
I was up late around 3 a.m. on Saturday night. My mind was racing with creative ideas as usual. I could hear footsteps scurrying around upstairs, followed by a big sigh. The baby was crying. I could sense frustration from my youngest. After all, when did she ever have to wake up at such a time on a non-school night?
I smiled at first, knowing the lesson of having a baby was a huge responsibility and my daughter was absorbing this at a great age. Then I had this incredible instinct – to go upstairs and help her. The crying was so real, it tugged at my heart. My parental makeup blossomed. I took a few steps upstairs and stopped, waiting to hear what was happening. I couldn’t hear anything. I gently climbed up and took a quick peek in.
The baby was settled, nestled in my daughter’s arms, feeding quietly. I smiled.
It brought me back to the day I first held her. How she cried. And cried, and cried and cried. Did I mention she cried all night? She did. She cried so often the nurses complained she kept all the other babies in the nursery awake.
I will admit she shook me up too. She was our second child. And yet, I sat up all night worried that she would cry forever.
I thought, “What did we just do?”
Of course, she eventually stopped crying. She brings me smiles every day. I’m so proud of my daughters. They are loving and kind and generous – even when crying.
It took a lot of hard work and compassion and love to get us there.
All of these emotions came to the forefront this past weekend – all from a baby simulator.
I asked my daughter yesterday what she thought. “I think I will wait until my 30s to have children,” she replied.
I smiled. I can wait.
“I must have kept you and mom up a lot, right?”
I nodded. I smiled again. “But you were worth it.”