It’s a strange feeling watching your last child leave the baby era. When she was small, I was quite bittersweet about the whole process, as it meant that never again would we have a newborn in our family. This was helped, no doubt, by her calm nature. Emma made babyhood easy.
But recently I’m finding that I’m not grasping onto the sorrow as much, instead finding joy in her emerging personality and applauding her emotional, physical, and linguistic victories. Emma has embraced her place in our family and we are slowly becoming accustomed to having a second little firecracker in our midst. Suddenly, we no longer have a toddler + baby but instead are a family of four with two goofy, wonderful kids. The very chemistry of our family structure has changed and thus far it’s been lovely.
This morning she were toddling up the stairs equipped with various goodies, including a half eaten apple. “Emma”, I said, “remember food doesn’t come upstairs into the bedrooms”. She looked intently at the apple and then promptly tossed it back down the stairs. Problem solved. Two year-old logic at its finest. Life is never boring with this girl.
I weaned Emma a few weeks ago and the process was surprisingly drama-free. We’ve found other ways to spend time together and I’m secretly pleased to have my body wholly mine once again. Nursing the second time around was not a terribly enjoyable process yet we persevered because it was our special bonding time, free of the distraction of an older brother and bustle of family life. But I feel that motherhood has taken both a physical and occasional emotional toll and thus I’m relishing being in full and complete possession of my body. It’s a welcome change, despite the fleeting sadness of weaning a last child.
Emma wouldn’t be my child without a stubborn nature firmly established in her bedrock. Strong-willed doesn’t even begin to describe this toddler-sized chunk of granite. Once set upon a course of action, she is unlikely to be swayed. For example, she immediately decided that she wasn’t keen on being dragged out into the rain for this birthday photo shoot and just about every picture is testament to those emotions. Not even a bubbly brother making his silliest faces could work a bit of magic.
But once we were back inside, both children embarked on a joint fort-building project and Emma once again reverted back to her happy little self. Like most toddlers, she is at the whim of sudden and strong emotions that are as changeable as the weather. We’re thrilled that her resting equilibrium is generally one of calm happiness with sparks of fire.
As I write this, Emma is vigorously protesting her nap by heaving all her toys out of the crib. Sitting below in my office, I can tell she’s especially vexed as the crashes are louder than usual and interspersed by howls of frustration. There are times when a child-free existence looks mighty appealing. But I was reminded recently that I need to sit back, chuckle, and count my blessings, foremost among them this little girl with an infectious laugh and a killer arm.