As I sit here on the carpet in my son’s nursery folding yet another batch of clothes for the attic that are too snug for him, I had an epiphany. Grief in motherhood is always in season. Out of all the articles I read, moms I talked to, and thoughts in my head about motherhood, the feeling of grief was never one of them. Yet, it is a feeling that is in the back of my mind right next to joy.
I will never forget the first day grief unexpectedly washed over me. My son was born in the cold month of February and lived in these adorable penguin footie pajamas. It was a newborn size and was great while it lasted. Then, it finally happened. His little legs (maybe not so little anymore) could not straighten out. It was the first outfit of many that he would outgrow.
I took the pajamas off and cuddled him so tight in the rocking chair as I sobbed. In one thought, I felt ridiculous for crying over penguin footie pajamas. In another moment, I had this deep sense of sadness that my newborn was growing. Whether for better or worse, this would just be the start of these moments.
It happens when your little one begins to sleep longer through the night. When he is able to all of the sudden make a new noise that he never made before. The moment when you give him a lovey and grabs it from you. When you are cheering in the living room because he can roll over from one side to the next. The time when he feels just a bit heavier than the day he did before. When he is able to hold his head up by himself so you can lose the Ergo infant insert and put him in the Bumbo.
It happens when you introduce sweet potatoes, pears, and butternut squash. When he is strong enough to hold himself up to stand. When family and friends comment “he is getting so big!” The first time he knows what he wants and what he doesn’t and makes you well aware! The exciting time when he is finally crawling … and then walking.
As I have witnessed my son in all of these moments, I struggled to identify just what I was feeling. Why are these huge and happy milestones so sad? How can I be an ecstatic and proud mama one minute and yet feel this deep sense of grief at the same time?
Then, I realized that these moments are just little reminders that he is becoming a bit more independent and thus is starting to need me less. It hurts.
This is what makes our grief grief. We’re mourning the loss of being needed. We’re saddened that our small little beings will continue to need us less and less during the day-to-day. We are grieving the adorable and helpless infant that they used to be.
So many times, I wish time would slow down. If I had a rewind button, I would have pushed it a thousand times by now. He is growing up and there is nothing I can do to stop it or slow it down. He will continue to make milestones, grow older, and become more and more independent.
So, what is a mama to do? The inevitable is happening and at a rapid rate. We must slow down and enjoy it! Enjoy every last second you get with your little lovebug. Cherish the difficult times, the exciting times, the times that go by too quick, and the ones that seem to go on forever. Your little one will only be bigger and older tomorrow. You only get this day with him once. Keep it and hold it close to your heart.
And, for those times when the grief is too overwhelming. For those times when you look at him and wonder where your baby went, it’s OK to cry. It is OK to grieve over those milestones, the memories, and the penguin footie pajamas.