Today my youngest is five years old, and I’m not sure I’m dealing with that very well. It’s not that I’m not thrilled he’s three months away from graduating from preschool. As I told my good friend Jean, I expect my friends to figuratively lift me in a chair, clasp hands, and dance around me at the bus stop on his first day of kindergarten this fall. But on the other hand, I can’t believe that my baby, my BAY-BEE is five. How in the name of dirty diapers and baby slings did this happen? It’s cliche to say, but it seems like I was just writing about his birth.
For the record, my son was born on a Thursday morning. In our basement. With the midwife arriving half an hour before I pushed him out into the birthing tub. My two older children were at school, my mother had only six months to live, and my husband was deliriously happy I’d become such a pro at the birthing thing that he just had to cheerlead from the side of the Aqua Doula. And from the day he was born, this child has been the darling of our family. All four of the rest of us take care of him, and it makes me feel so blessed to be the youngest myself.
Five years later, the baby boy we named just before “Lost” started is definitely still The Baby. We won’t be having any more children, so there’s a heightened sense of “This is it” every time he gets a year older or meets another developmental milestone. I find myself getting weepy just thinking of his preschool’s “Moving On” graduation ceremony. My husband refuses to even talk about kindergarten, even though orientation is May 1. We thought there would be more time, and all of a sudden we’re faced with the fact that our kids is just months away from reading and riding a two wheeler, and being away from me for more than four hours at a time. It’s like my heart is simultaneously applauding and mourning.
Today I’m the co-op helper in my brand-new-5-year-old’s class. We’ll have donuts to share, and then later my immediate family will head to Five Guys (his request) for dinner and have a Baskin-Robbins ice-cream cake for dessert (again, his request!). And I may cry — to be honest, I’m crying right now. Because part of me wishes he was still a nursling in my fleece pouch. But I am also so, so delighted with who he is right now — as this sweet and gentle little boy who lifts my spirits and never complains about accompanying me on errands or taking his siblings to tennis or tae kwan do or ballet. He’s the kid who will happily play with adorably bossy firstborns or sensitive introverts alike.
My older brother Jorge once jokingly called my son St. Francis of Assisi — because of how sweet he was to all of his cousins. And while I’m not signing my son up for canonization any time soon, I do believe he’s extraordinary — not because he’s mine, but because he’s this little miracle we didn’t expect and who fills us with so much joy.
So sage moms with older children: will I always feel bittersweet about “The Baby” getting older? Do you find yourself getting more emotional about that last kid? I need to know. And I also probably need to give away all these slings.