These days I’m caught in the guilty, contradicting feeling of pining my workdays away, anticipating Layla’s smile when I pick her up from daycare, and then subsequently wishing for bedtime to hurry up and get here once we walk in the door. I dread the morning and evening rush, yet know it’s such a limited time with my girls and hope to somehow make quality time out of those hurried, stressful minutes. Because I no longer see the baby in my 9-year-old, and the baby-ness has begun to fade in my 14-month-old as she’s toddling around the house, babbling and gesturing in conversation, surprising us almost daily with new developments. Her chunky butt and thick thighs have shaped up, and I miss her dimpled booty.
I never thought twice about how fast time went with Skyler when she was little. It just happened. And I DO remember praying to survive various difficult phases and wishing for the next phase. But now, having a mature and independent older child has shown me such a contrast, making it crystal clear just how quickly they grow up, teaching me to take a breath and try to be present in as many moments and phases as possible during Layla’s littleness. I can’t stop snuggling her, I don’t hesitate to bring her a bottle and rock her back to sleep at 2 am, and I honestly enjoy diaper changes. But despite my best attempts to be present in these moments and not wish away the phases, they just seem to keep escaping me.
I feel guilty about my obsession with Layla – I don’t remember if I was this obsessed with Skyler but I’m pretty sure I wasn’t. Maybe it’s the difference of breastfeeding one but not the other? Could our bond really be that different? Don’t get me wrong – I adore Skyler and enjoyed her as a baby – she was much easier and sweeter than Layla too. So maybe it’s that Skyler is so much older and more independent – she’s becoming her own person and needs me much less. I’ve forgotten the feelings of affection toward that squishy little innocent goofball who’s now become a smart, creative, sometimes snobby kid that knows right from wrong and tests me more than she should. Maybe that evolution is just running it’s course and that’s a good thing because someday she will leave the house and maybe then I won’t be so heartbroken? Maybe it’s just that my love for her is changing – it’s a love that has been wounded as her innocence slowly fades. It’s a love that is less about affection, and more about respect and concern for the person she is becoming.
But there is another difference about Layla. She is the one that almost never was. She is a symbol of healing to Ronnie’s and my relationship after some really hard times. And she herself had hard times and healing her first weeks of life. She almost died one night. Skyler’s heart struggles are already a distant memory – her own scar is so faded it’s almost unnoticeable. And so maybe my fear of letting Layla grow up comes from never wanting to forget how far we’ve come, and how far both girls have come. The more time that goes by, the darkness of the past seems to lighten, which should be celebrated. But I fear to ever forget the tests of faith, the lessons learned, or take anything for granted. I know there’s plenty more life to live, with wonderful things in each phase, but the baby phase – it’s a special one, for sure. I’m so thankful I got the chance to do it again.