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To My Baby, Who Isn't the Baby Anymore

Photograph by Mary Sauer

When we brought you home, I was so nervous. I had no idea how I would juggle your needs while taking care of your big sister. I sat up with you night after night, kissing your round cheeks between diaper changes and feedings. I showed big sister how to use soft hands to give you hugs and play with your dark curls. You were my baby and you were the baby of the family.

Two weeks ago, we brought your new brother home. Now, I kiss his round cheeks between diaper changes and feedings and marvel at how much he looks like you did as a brand new babe. I show you how to use soft hands to give him hugs and play with his dark curls. You are still my baby, but you aren’t the baby of the family anymore.

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We were just here, the two of us, nursing through the night. We were just learning from each other, mastering round-the-clock feedings and pacing the halls together into the early hours of the morning. You were just the baby, 8 pounds and 4 ounces of soft skin and dark curls, dropped on my bare stomach, slowing finding your way to my breast.

Now, you crash into me recklessly for a hug before running off to climb something or to chase your sister around the house. You speak in full sentences, asking questions and telling stories, reminding me you are no longer the tiny baby I used to pull into my bed at night.

I know it is time for you to grow up, to step into the role of big sister. I just didn’t expect it to be so hard.

When you arrived, I didn’t even bat an eye at your sister losing her role as the only child. I watched proudly as she stepped into the role of big sister, as she learned to handle you gently and become more independent. I’m not sure what is different this time around, but I know you aren’t the baby anymore and that breaks my heart. I want to beg you to slow down, to nap with me on the couch, but you have more important, big girl things to do. I want to scoop you up in my arms and rock you to sleep, but you wiggle and squirm your way off of my lap and climb into bed all by yourself.

I love everything about who you are becoming. You are sweet, you are wild and you are free. You sing your made-up lyrics to your favorite sings passionately, your eyes squeezed shut while you twirl around the house. You stubbornly insist on putting on your own shoes and dressing and undressing yourself, multiple times a day. You stand over your brother when he fusses in his bassinet, sweetly shushing him and rocking him like you've watch me do countless times. I know it is time for you to grow up, to step into the role of big sister. I just didn’t expect it to be so hard. I didn't expect to wish for the last two years back or to feel heartache when I pack away another box of clothes you have outgrown.

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You may not be the baby anymore, but you are still my baby. So, I keep clinging to every little memory of your first year. I won't apologize for tearfully browsing through old photos or repeatedly watching the video of your first few steps. I will continue to insist on carrying you on my hip, even though you are getting a little too heavy and you walk just fine on your own. I refuse to correct your mispronounced words. I secretly give thanks for sick days, the only time you will settle in for a nap on my chest. You may not be the baby anymore, but you are still my baby and no amount of time can ever change that.

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