Tonight, on the eve of my baby's first birthday, I had the realization that I just might be feeding him his last bottle ever. He has been really into the sippy cup, and he is getting a new one just like the big kids for his birthday tomorrow. He is not as interested in the bottle anymore, which is fine. But it's ending an era. My last baby is losing his babyhood. I knew this was a moment to savor.
I sat in our chair, the big, comfy leather desk chair at the computer. We have spent countless hours in this chair, Drew and I, nursing, cuddling, napping, and bottle-feeding. He has been slowly weaning himself for the last few months, and for the last couple of weeks has no longer been a nursing baby. But still we cuddle, him in the same crook of my arm, holding his bottle and sharing our time.
Tonight, knowing this might be the end, I wanted to remember. I decided that I would sit and feed him his bottle, beginning to end, no matter what. We would not be interrupted. We would not let this moment pass by, forgotten and un-celebrated in the noise and chaos of our house. We would acknowledge this time, these last moments of babyhood before they are gone forever.
So we sat. We cuddled. We stared into each others eyes, his big blues looking deep into my soul while he drank, me stroking his hand, him holding my finger. Emma tried to tell me about the movie, and I told her she would have to wait. Ben complained about being poopy, and I instructed him to be patient, I would change him when I was done feeding Drew. I looked at my baby again, my very last baby, and he smiled at me, causing milk to run out of the corners of his mouth and pool in his dimples. I loved it.
I heard Ben in the bathroom, and warned him not to take his diaper off himself. I heard velcro and guessed he wasn't listening. I looked at my baby once again, and found him still staring at me with such love in his eyes, I could hardly stand it. I pulled him close and promised that we would finish this bottle without interruption.
I ignored Ben. I ignored the sound of the toilet flushing. The bathroom can be cleaned, but babies cannot be found again once they become toddlers. I heard the toilet flush again, and prayed that I would not have to call a plumber. Drew reached out and stroked my cheek. He knew we were having a moment, he and I, and was enjoying it as much as I was. Grant ran into the bathroom and started yelling, "Oh, no, Ben! Dats naughty!" Drew giggled, his eyes still locked on mine. Still, I didn't move.
I finished the bottle with Drew. I didn't jump when Grant emerged from the bathroom, the bottoms of his pants soaking wet like he had been walking through a huge puddle. I didn't get up when Ben came out of the bathroom with poop still squished between his little-boy-bum-cheeks. I simply sent him back in the bathroom to wait.
And I finished the bottle with Drew.
The kids are growing up way to fast. In five years, will it matter that Ben attempted to clean himself up with a half of a jumbo-sized roll of toilet paper and overflowed the toilet? Nope, it won't. Will I even remember the day that I had to clean toilet water off every surface of the bathroom twice? Probably not. In five years, when Drew is off to Kindergarten, will I have the memory of sitting with his almost-one-year-old little self, staring into his eyes and just enjoying him? You bet I will. I refuse to let their childhoods slip by in a wake of messes and poop. They are truly only young once, and I will cherish their youth.
Life is not measured by the number of times we have to hold our breath while we clean up poop,
but rather by the moments that we realize that these years will soon pass us by.
-Tiffani Stauffer, January 4, 2010