I feel like I blinked today, and a new awareness settled in.
My two-year-old isn’t a baby anymore.
It hit me when I was outside with her, just us two, laying out on the grass next to her kiddie pool. I had a book open, the day was calm, sun warm.
And there it was.
A moment of realization about what we were doing.
Rather, what she was doing.
She was sitting with me.
Connecting. Holding a conversation.
“Mama, what are you doing?” or “What is that?” she’d say, inquisitively staring at me for the answer. I’d tell her, and she’d think. Then blow bubbles, giggling. “It’s a good smootie,” (her word for smoothie), contentedly licking her lips.
I leaned over to give her a kiss. “Mama,” and she leaned in to kiss back.
Don’t get me wrong, she’s a wild one who keeps me on my toes. Tries to climb on my head the minute I sit down with a plate of food. Takes off running in a second’s notice and won’t come back easily, no matter where we are. And she’s never been a late bloomer. This kiddo I was blessed with was saying “ma-ma” at three months old, walking at nine months three weeks, and could say the alphabet by eleven months old.
But at none of her big milestones, did I feel this realization.
It hit me hard, unexpectedly, suddenly.
Because she was such a crazy toddler, hard to keep up with, till now I’d kept up an internal pep talk of, “I can’t wait till she grows up, I can’t wait, I can’t wait...”
I wasn’t going to be one of those moms who was sad when their baby wasn’t a baby, I said.
But here I was.
All messed up.
Not staying strong.
Because today, her grown-up moments cut me in the heart a little bit.
That moment, staring back in her eyes as she sat there with me, on the grass, just drinking her smoothie ― I saw it.
My baby was gone.
In her place is a child.
Her awareness, the level of feeling, it’s all there. At a child’s level.
I can see it, all in her eyes.
She isn’t my baby anymore.
She’s becoming more, growing up, molding into the roots of the amazing person she’ll be one day.
The only remaining baby flicker I have is when she breastfeeds. It’s a precious bond I’ve had with her since birth, and I don’t want to let go. Today’s realization is even more sad because we just started this week on the necessary path to weaning (wish me luck - so far, so good: “mama, nurse here is all gone”).
I held her extra close tonight while I gave her ten minutes of nursing (the independent kid didn’t want me to sing any of our usual nursery rhymes―”NO, mama, NO twinkle twinkle little star,” she’d pop off to remind me every time I tried).
And I might have cried.
But they were tears of joy.
Because she’s going to be an amazing person.
The world’s gaining a beauty.
I can see it all in her little eyes, her warm little heart, the smile, the big, happy “HI!” that melts everyone’s heart (she puts me to shame at loving strangers).
I told my husband, and he got it. But he didn’t get why I was sniffling about it: it must be a mom thing.
It’s funny, because I remember when she was a newborn, all the way up to twelve months old. My heart dearly wished for these big moments of connection, when we could have “mommy-daughter conversations,” and really interact on this level.
But right now...
I just want to hold my baby another minute and not let go.
Julia McCoy is a 25-year-old college dropout, wife, mommy, and founder of Express Writers. She’s an Amazon bestselling author of a non-fiction guide to online writing, So You Think You Can Write? The Definitive Guide to Successful Online Writing, and hosts The Write Podcast. She lives in Austin, TX with her husband, baby girl Jaina, and two big, lovable, furry dogs.