I promised him I would treat her as my last. Even though nothing makes me as happy as “the babies” – from the big awesome responsibility of raising tiny humans to be moral beings, to the little every day tasks of bathing and feeding and drying between tiny toes – I promised him. I will make her my last.
But how to do it? How to ignore that space in my heart? How to deal with the yearning to “do for” when my son says daily – multiple times daily – “but mummy, I can do it all by myself!”. Well, there is a way. I will nurture and spoil and baby and coddle this one. I’ll let her need me to I’ll do all the things for her and I’ll keep her out of fashionable skirts and in babygrows, and out of chairs and in bumbos and out of the playroom and in my arms. It’s the last time — I will savor her forever.
Ah, But Little Miss. Little Miss Caroline Grace who has outgrown her name and adopted the sassy CG does not want to be savored. Unlike her laid-back brother who lingered in each comfy stage she charges ahead. I should have known. When she upped and walked at 10 months… I should have known. When at 10 and a half months she grabbed the legs of her highchair and screaming tried to toss it over… I sat her at a regular chair in at the table with a booster seat for 3 years plus and I should have known. I should have known when I saw her holding her own in an argument against her brother who has three years on her… when he sloped away defeat I should have knon. When she put her own shoes on… when she grabbed the medicine syringe out of my hand and threw it across the room screaming “no”… when her bellows weren’t screams of sad anguish but those of cold, determined anger at any lack of control… I should have known.
I really should have known when at 12 months on the nose they moved her to the 17-24 month class. “No binkies! No bottles! No bare feet!” They said. Then quieter… “She’s doing so much better…” they said.
But… she doesn’t want to be a baby. She is fierce, and she fights for her independence. I know now. I know not to fight it. So when she told me for months that she hated cribs and she won’t be constrained in one, I should have listened. But I fight too, and she’s a baby and I know that babies go in cribs and so we stood yelling at each other until one of us gave in. And here she is… peacefully slumbering in a toddler bed. I lay her down, kissed her on the forehead and left. And there were no tears, she just picked up a teddy and went to sleep.
She is my last… but she will not be treatedas such, Adamantly, she will steam ahead and be first. She does not compromise and when it comes to what is best for her: she is not wrong. And as we draw the battle lines and give each other steely eyes gazes across them, I recognize this – in too deep of a way – and I know where she gets it from.
And though my heart screams and I dig my heels in (and she digs hers in further) – May she keep trail blazing. May she keep lighting her eat into the future and we will all stand in her wake and look on and try to keep up.