I have two children who I love – as I tell them so every night when I tuck them in – to the moon and back; so very much that my heart threatens to burst at times. Our family is complete: we only ever wanted two children, and two we have. I know how very lucky this is.
However, there is a pang that shoots through me, quite unexpectedly, when I watch my son (now 18 months) do something new. Yes, I am filled with joy for him, and thrill at his pleasure in even the smallest of achievements, but at times there is a little voice which reminds me, ‘This is it, you know? You will never watch your own child learn to stand/walk/reach for you/say ‘mama’ for the first time again’.
I mentioned this to friends (who are also ‘done’): is it just me? Oh no, one demurred, sometimes the, ‘so, this really is it’ feeling makes her want to weep. Another said she yearns to be pregnant one more time (even though she felt dreadful throughout both her pregnancies) and confessed she even hankers after “just one more night” of breastfeeding her baby whilst the world sleeps and it feels like you and them against the world. (“Which is,” she adds, “sheer madness, I know.”)
There is something bittersweet about the last child. Not that child itself, but the knowledge that it is your last. (Be it your first and last, or the last of three, four, five…)
Which is why I hold my son so very close; kiss his rosy, chubby cheeks a hundred times; sing Row, Row, Row Your Boat whenever he asks; carry him on my hip when he reaches for me (even if my back is aching and I am weary) – just to feel his little hands and legs hook around me to draw us ever closer. And – even on the trickiest, most infuriating days – I try never to will time to move forward any faster.
(I’ve posted a link to this poem before. Read it and weep (or perhaps it’s just me?)
Poem via Pinterest