Before I became pregnant with Ryan, when I thought about having kids, I sort of fast-forwarded the years in my mind. I didn’t think much about the infant stage. I went straight for the toddler/young kid stage. You know, family dinners and climbing monkey bars at neighborhood parks and shoveling sand into pails on beaches and anticipating visits from Santa Claus.
And then Ryan was born and I realized that we still had some waiting to do. Ryan wasn’t quite ready to learn to ride a bike or toss a ball. He was more into sleeping and eating and sticking things in his mouth. I tried very hard to not wish time away, knowing my baby was only going to be a baby for the briefest moment in time. But at times, I couldn’t help but think how I couldn’t wait until.
Until he could just eat whatever we were eating. Until he could fall asleep on his own in a crib instead of always rocking in my arms. Until he could walk so that he didn’t always need to be carried from point A to point B. Until we could communicate and understand each other.
It always seemed so far off. I’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve said, “Well, this will be a little more fun next year when Ryan ‘gets’ it.”
It hit me over the weekend that we’ve sort of arrived.
I marveled at how he marched back and forth across the living room, pretending to talk on a cell phone. How he threw a ball to me when I encouraged him. How he whined when I offered him food he didn’t want and signed “more” when I offered him something he did want. How he blew me a kiss when I told him I loved him.
This is it. We have a little boy. A sweet, energetic, playful little boy. And I love it. But now I sort of miss all that rocking and cuddling. I miss things I never really even thought about at the time. Like how tiny he looked in his infant car seat. Or the chugging noise he’d make when he finally got his bottle.
And while I’m missing those things, I’m simultaneously trying to grab hold of all the little details of how Ryan is right now. The way he throws his arms up the air with great gusto when he wants out of his high chair or crib. The way he swipes his hand through the air when he doesn’t want something. The way he dips his hand into a cup of water and gently “washes” his own face while he’s taking a bath.
Parenting feels like a tight-rope walk between the thrill of watching them grow and the nostalgia of what they’ve left behind.
What do you miss about your kids when they were younger? Or heck, better yet — what don’t you miss? (The constant spitting up, perhaps? The lack of neck control?)