It’s been ten years since I held my last newborn.
I’ve held newborns since, nieces and nephews born after my children or babies belonging to friends.
But ten years have passed since a nurse handed me a freshly born child of my own.
The baby I knew would be my last.
The one who had two siblings at home, a 3 year old and a 2 year old brother.
That baby who changed us from man-to-man to zone defense.
The one who had to go along for the ride because there’s not much time for quiet time and rigid schedules when you have two other young kids at home.
The one whose babyhood I thought would be easier because I’d been through it twice before, and pretty recently.
And in some ways, it was easier.
I didn’t have the new mom worries.
But it was constantly juggling three kids.
Wearing him more than I ever wore the other two so my hands would be free for the other two.
Everyone told me to enjoy his baby days while I could, since they would be my last.
And I tried.
I remember snuggling him, rocking him, and marveling at his milestones. Even if the dates of those milestones are a little blurry when coupled with all that was going on with his brothers.
Friends would ask if I was sad to watch him grow, knowing his would be the last firsts. The last child to say “mama” for the first time, the last one to take his first steps, the last child to have a first day of preschool and then kindergarten, and on and on.
But it didn’t really hit me in the moment.
Talking and walking were a relief because it meant he could tell me what he wanted and get himself where he needed to go. Heading to school meant a few child-free hours for the first time in years.
It’s different with the last child. He was in a hurry to catch up to his older brothers and I felt like each step towards “growing up” was taking one more thing off my plate. And he was so eager to be like the big boys and took such joy in being able to keep up with them that I couldn’t be sad about any of it.
But today, he turns ten.
He’s my last child to leave single digit age behind and head to the “big kid” land of double digits.
I don’t wish to go back or think I didn’t treasure his little kid days enough.
But it is hitting me hard that he’s growing up. All of my boys are, but now my baby is, too.