The Weird Stage of Motherhood
Do you remember that song, "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman" by Britney Spears? It came out back in 2001, when I was in college and had just started dating my husband. We females wore our pants so low you needed a bikini wax in the winter. Our hair was pin straight and likely damaged from overusing flat irons, which were finally affordable for consumers like me. I even used it on wet hair. I cringe at the thought - and the steam. I'm just grateful my hair did not fall out in protest.
Back then, I kind of related to that song by Britney. I wasn't quite out on my own yet (still living at home while going to college), but I was legally an adult and could do a lot of things. It was a weird transitional time and I was finding my footing in this new phase of my life. I'm kind of in a similar season of motherhood right now. You see, I'm not a baby mom, not yet a big kid mom.
I'm done with my childbearing years (we made a permanent decision a few years ago), but still in that my life is ruled by naps and shitty diapers phase. I'm no longer breastfeeding (no more quick fix tantrum taming), but heaven help us all if my toddler doesn't get his red matchbox car and Paw Patrol fix on the regular. I've still got my toe dipped in the baby days pool with the toddler. I'm commiserating with new moms on not sleeping through the night (he still gets up 1-2x), horrendous diapers, and hesitation on sharing carseat pics on the internet. My oldest is finishing up Kindergarten and is his own person. He's fairly independent, but needs Mom or Dad. I can talk to big kid parents about stuff like summer camp, teachers, and gifted and talented programs. I'm in a transitional stage of motherhood.
I look at baby pictures, thanks to Timehop and FB's On This Day feature, with a certain wistfulness. But I'm getting glimpses of life on the other side. I no longer carry a full diaper bag, I can have conversations with both my kids (albeit to varying degrees), and going out to dinner is no longer traumatizing to everyone in a 5-mile radius of the restaurant. A certain part of me misses breastfeeding a newborn. I'm a little sad that I'll never again get to experience the thrill and panic of a positive pregnancy test or that first kick where you think it may be gas. I won't get to have an amazing birth ever again (I've had 2 amazing births, I'm just being greedy here). It's almost as if I'm mourning the end of my baby making and baking years.
While I miss those baby days, I am looking forward to the phase of parenthood where we aren't under the command of the afternoon nap or running out of diapers (Amazon Prime to the rescue). Most days I vacillate between craving a newborn to snuggle 100% of the time, and looking forward to spending more time by myself and with my husband. Please don't get me wrong, I'm grateful to have two awesome little boys and am thoroughly enjoying this stage of motherhood. It's just that I feel like I'm lacking something, something I can't quite put my finger on. I'm a little freaked that my oldest is so independent and much more influenced by his peers than me (it's normal, but it's still weird). He's needing me less and growing up more. At least I've got my toddler... for now. It's nice to feel needed.
I spent so much time in the baby years and really feel like that phase defined who I am. Now that I'm transitioning out of it, I feel a little lost. I wonder if there will always be this weirdness, this void. Will I long for that sweet newborn smell or hiccups in utero when my oldest is in middle school? Will I still silently hope for a missed period, like I do now? Giving in to the sadness, knowing those unforgettable steps in motherhood won't happen again, seems to bring me comfort. I'm slowly but surely navigating this new phase of motherhood. By looking back at the baby days fondly, I feel like I'm recognizing the journey I've been on to be the mother I am today: not a baby mom, but not yet a big kid mom.