Right now, I’m feeling kind of like a warrior because I just assembled a day bed – plus trundle! – all by myself while listening to Taylor Swift songs (nope, not embarrassed, not even a little bit). I used a hex key and a Phillips head screwdriver and a moderate amount of bad language and a basic amount of common sense, and I got the damn thing put together.
But yesterday, I wasn’t a warrior. Yesterday, I was a huge sobbing mess. Yesterday, I gave away the last of Georgia’s baby things.
The crib and the Pack ‘N Play and the car seat and the Moby Wrap and the outgrown clothes all went to good homes, to friends who will very soon put brand-new babies into them. And when I think of all the exhaustion that lies ahead for them, all of the long nights and the early mornings, I’m not jealous.
But then I remember that impossibly muggy summer night in mid-June 2012 when 2-week-old Georgia would not stop screaming and how I snuggled her up in that Moby Wrap, tied her against me, both of us sweating like crazy wrapped up in all that thick fabric, but she calmed down immediately, and I felt so proud of myself for knowing how to soothe her, and I kissed her tiny bald baby head again and again, smoothing it with the flat of my hand and then kissing it again, shushing her, swaying back and forth. Just typing this is making me cry all over again, and I’m mopping at my cheeks with scratchy brown industrial paper towels because they’re all I have on hand. They hurt, but it kind of feels like penance for crying over something so silly, to be honest.
I have no reason to cry. Nothing is wrong with my baby, with either one of my babies. They are blessedly healthy and happy.
They are growing up. They are supposed to grow up. I am happy that they’re growing up. So why am I also so sad?
With Ruby, I always kind of figured I would have another baby, and I didn’t particularly enjoy her infancy, marred as it was by her agonizing reflux and my crippling anxiety of first-time motherhood, so I embraced each stage as she moved into it. With Georgia, who was a delightful baby, I’m excited to watch her advance, but I know that each “first” is also a “last.” It is her first step, and my last time to watch a baby of mine take her first step. And so on with everything.
I don’t want another baby. God, not even a little bit. But I – day-bed-building warrior – am still driven to tears when I realize I’ll never have another baby swing in my living room.
Still, some things aren’t going away. Just last night, I lay next to Georgia in bed and sang her the same song I sang to her the first night I held her in the hospital, “Baby Mine,” which is a hard song to sing even if you can sing, which I can’t. But even though I consistently mangle the song, Georgia loves it. And last night, when I was done singing, Georgia reached out and patted my face. “Sing it again, Mama,” she said. She talks now, in full sentences; it’s so awesome.
And so I sang it again. I even sang it one more time after that.
She may have outgrown her crib and her baby clothes, but I hope she never outgrows her lullaby.
Excerpted from Eve Crawford Peyton’s blog, Joie d’Eve, which appears each Friday on MyNewOrleans.com.