I hate cleaning out my closets. It is one of the worst parenting chores. I have three sons, all born during the same season, so I often find myself moving things from one room to the next in the hand-me-down parade. I really hate to do my closet, but sometimes it just has to be done. Not too long ago, I was going through some things and came across a pair of maternity jeans. They stood out among the other, more fitted apparel with their broad, comfy elastic band. I felt a pang in my stomach as I held them in my hands, knowing full well that my pregnant life is over and that I’m done having kids. It makes me so sad. And it is okay for me to feel that way.
The Baby Days
My baby-bearing days have been gone for a while; my youngest is six. Why do I still have those pants in my closet? I don’t know. I guess I can’t bear to let them go. They are part of my history, a considerable chunk of my life. Some of my very happiest and fondest days were when I donned a giant belly and couldn’t see my toes. I have four beautiful children — three boys and a girl — and I spent three entire years pregnant. There are stretch marks, loose skin, and boobs that have seen better days to prove it. Just because my kids are growing up doesn’t mean that my heart doesn’t still ache for those baby days.
When I first became a mom, I was in my twenties. I was so young and innocent and blissfully unaware of motherhood’s struggles. As I held my newborn son in my arms, I wept with pride, excitement, and fear. I wanted to be the best mother I could be to him so badly. I prayed that life would bless him with fullness and excitement and that I would be able to guide him. Those first few months of parenthood are hard. There are late-night feedings, unending cries, hundreds of diapers, and feelings of being both overwhelmed and completely content all at the same time.
And while it is such a fervor of emotions, I would gobble one of those late nights up in a heartbeat if I could. Please don’t misunderstand; I am a very happy mom. My kids fill my cup. Actually, it overflows with joy as I watch them grow and enjoy their young lives. They have four distinct personalities and outlooks on the world, and I am amazed each day as they take on life. I like to think that I have had a bit of a part in that. When I look at them — a teen, two tweens, and my little kid — I can still see them as babies. Their eyes are the same.
Sometimes, they fall asleep with their heads on my lap, and I will trace their faces and run my fingers through their hair as I did when they were younger. It makes my heart happy that they still find comfort in their momma’s arms. I take those moments and covet them because I know that they are fleeting.
When You’re Done Having Kids
When you know that you aren’t going to have another baby, you might feel a little depressed. It may make you think that there is nothing to look forward to. Some women experience an actual ache as they yearn to grow another human inside of them. I understand all of that. I have cried many a tear knowing that there won’t be another crib in my house or that I won’t have the joy of hearing “You have another boy” or “Congratulations, she’s a girl.”
Those were prideful and exciting moments. It isn’t hard to understand why someone would yearn for that. And it is totally natural to have those feelings.
It doesn’t make me, or you, or anyone else a sad person for missing having a baby around. I think that makes us pretty normal. If we didn’t want a life surrounded by babies and children, we probably wouldn’t have started the families we are so proud of, right? It is perfectly okay to stop in Target’s baby department and touch the little sleepers’ toes. There is nothing wrong with telling a stranger that their baby is beautiful. And if a baby is in your life through a family member or a friend, there is no shame in holding them and giving them a bottle and loving on them just because you can. That’s a mother’s nature. You can’t take that away from us.
Life After Babies
Is there life after the baby stage? Yes! And it is so unbelievably amazing. Sure, there are growing pains like potty training and teaching someone to read, but the rewards are incredible. As a mother of kids ranging from six to 14, I promise there are many beautiful days ahead. There are soccer games and Scout meetings. You will have the joy of the first day of kindergarten, middle school, and high school. As a parent, you will beam when your child sings in the school play or when they come home with a good grade on a test that you helped them study for.
Soak it all in at every stage. Because just as fast as those baby days go, childhood is a blink. Revel in the mundane moments at home with your children. Even if they only want to watch a movie or have a BBQ in the backyard and talk to you, take it! You will never regret the time spent with your children. They will continue to define you as time goes on. Sure, they will test and challenge you, but they will make you stronger and better. Continue to love them and raise them to be good human beings. That’s all the world can ask for.
And as you are digging through your closet, it is okay to put those maternity jeans back on the shelf. We all need a bit of nostalgia and a good cry now and then. It’s what makes us good moms. It shows how much we love our kids and how happy they have made us since the beginning. If you can get that warm fuzzy feeling from an old pair of jeans, keep them! You deserve it for all the hard work you continue to put into the motherhood game every day.
Enjoy it all. Time is a thief.