When my younger daughter was potty trained a year ago, I turned to my husband and said, "We're done here, right?"
I mean, after you've changed your last diaper and your baby unofficially becomes a little kid, parenting is all downhill from there, isn't it? Yeah, sure, there's still teaching them to ride a bike, wading through puberty and chipping away at college applications, but other than that, it's kind of over.
Boy, that was quick. Parenting, that is. It seems like it went from trying to conceive to sending them out into the world (or at least the backyard to play unsupervised for 10 minutes before dinner) just like that. While I was thrilled to be done with diapers, the more time I've had away from them, the more time I've surprisingly found myself missing them (my babies and their diapers). And that's not the only quasi-astonishing thing I miss about having a baby.
1. Yeah, the diapers
I don't miss the poop, but I do long for those moments when the baby is on a changing table, her whole life in my hands while she wiggles with anticipation for belly tickles and quiet songs. While I still don't miss the poop, I do miss the faint smell of baby powder that some diapers have. And while I still don't miss the poop—and if you have a sensitive gag reflex, you might want to skip directly to No. 2 now—sometimes I miss the poopy smell. Not the smell of raw poop hitting the air and then wafting on a one-way train to your nostrils, but the kind of smell that was all padded up in her diaper when she'd first wake up from a nap all groggy, a little sweaty and just generally like a human piece of Play-Doh, only coated with sugar and absolutely everything nice.
2. Silent communication
In some ways, it's even sweeter to get that tight hug around the neck, exuding limitless adoration, than actually hearing the words.
When your baby starts talking, you're relieved because it's an important milestone, but also because they can actually tell you what they want to eat, where it hurts and, of course, how much they love you. However, when they don't have words yet, they still manage to find a way to express much of that—and in some ways, it's even sweeter to get that tight hug around the neck, exuding limitless adoration, than actually hearing the words.
3. Damp shirts
I was flirting with my friends' 10-month-old son shortly before he went to bed the other night. He was wrapped up in one of those sleep sacks (I miss those!) and while tickling his chin to elicit a giggle, I could feel that the front of his sack was damp from drool (his, not mine). Not much about saliva appeals to me, except when it means a baby is teething and they do that thing where they try to gum everything they can get their hands on, including your hand. It's obviously not the most sanitary thing (for the baby or you), but it doesn't hurt and it's kind of adorable that your finger can be right up there with a favorite lovie or key chain.
4. Middle-of-the-night cries
Hardly anyone in their right mind likes being woken up to a crying baby in the dead of night. But sometimes, right when you are in the deepest, most heavenly slumber and you get up to calm a hysterical little one, they give you one of those only-for-you smiles, burrow their tiny body into your arms and drift back to a sleep so peaceful with you that they don't wake up until much later than normal the next morning.
No one particularly likes Barney while their children are firmly in the throes of a Barney phase. That is, until they're out of the phase, and then you never knew how much the innocence of Barney was something to have savored (although some children clearly skipped the Barney phase. We're looking at you, Caillou!). Babies have zero inhibitions, which means they'll sing loudly and dance terribly along with Barney—it's disharmony at its least annoying and most charming.
Who likes having their personal space invaded? That would be no one. Yet parents of wee ones will testify to the fact that their offspring think everything is theirs without question. Whether that means they think it's appropriate and funny to pull up your skirt or shirt while on the checkout line at the supermarket, raid and then subsequently destroy the contents on your nightstand, or drop your brand-new iPhone into the toilet, the only thing worse is when they stop doing it (well, maybe not the iPhone one). Bambinos learning about boundaries are well on their way to growing up. While it might be nice to get some of your space back, they weren't breaching it to be mean; they just didn't know any better, were curious and wanted to be a little closer to you. It's hard to get mad at that—and not to miss it.