If you’ve been a mom for more than 10 minutes, you’ve probably heard (and reacted to) the well-intended phrase, “Enjoy it! You’re going to miss this!” If you’re like me, you smile at whoever is delivering this prophecy, then mentally roll your eyes. I can list off dozens of things I won’t miss about the newborn/infant stages. But once I realized I was finished with that stage of life for good (my baby will be three years old this spring), it honestly made me nostalgic for some surprising things.
I can’t believe I’d even say this, but I really miss the smells of early infancy. The heavenly smells like fresh out of the bathtub and using that favorite essential oil or lotion stand out to me. But honestly even that sickly sweet “milk dribbled down my chin and Mom didn’t wipe in between my neck folds” smell was something special. Big kid smells are just not the same. My big kids lately are a combination of sweat, sunblock, bug spray, and old shoes.
No, I honestly don’t miss the cracked and bleeding nipples, the around-the-clock feedings, or showering with a towel wrapped around my massive milk-makers when even the gentle spray of water was too painful. I don’t fondly remember the struggle to get a good latch with each of my four kids. What I miss about nursing is that no matter how stressed or busy things got, I had guaranteed one-on-one time with each of my babies. At family parties I could slip into another room for some peace and quiet and snuggles.
I can vividly remember the first time each of my children smiled at me. Not a gassy newborn smile but a full-on “I know who you are and I love you” gummy, toothless smile that melted my entire heart. For the first month or so, I felt like I was just a milk source. Once I knew my babies recognized me and smiled right at me, it made all the exhaustion worthwhile! When I smile at babies in the grocery store, and I get a gummy smile back, it brings me right back to those moments with my own children.
Bigger kids, bigger problems
Hear me out! When you have a crying infant, you will have to decide from a relatively short list of possible solutions to make them happy. Change diaper, fill their tummies, burp them, distract them, or put them in the car and drive around until they fall asleep (no judgment…we’ve all been there!). But as they leave that infant stage behind, it is harder and harder to find the source of their unhappiness and solve the problem. My two year old was in hysterics when I cut her sandwich into the wrong shape (how dare I!). There could be dozens of reasons why my eight year old is moody, so I have to pepper him with questions: was someone mean to you? Did someone say something rude? Are you tired? Do you feel sick? What happened at school? It is so much harder to figure out what their problems are.
Way back in those early months, I can remember many times when I would nurse my infant, prop them up on my chest for a burp, and they would fall asleep on my chest. I absolutely loved feeling that baby weight on my chest. There’s just something magical about that heartbeat-to-heartbeat sleep that newborns can do. There’s nothing like it in this world. I wish I could go back in time to that new-mom me, who was SO worried about spoiling the baby by holding them too much. I would probably tell her, “You’re going to miss this!!”