Motherhood: The Ever Growing Distance

THoughts on Motherhood as we approach 1 year.  Read The Fresh Exchange for the full story.

The other day I was running through the grocery store on a Sunday. I hate hate HATE going to the grocery store on a Sunday afternoon. Many times I vow to never go and typically it happens right after I have just gone on a Sunday. The lines are long and well I know you know what I am talking about. While I rushed around, Hayes sat in the seat of the cart content watching all the people walk past and smile at him. Someone makes a comment about his hair and we say thank you. Another older gentlemen waves at him and Hayes giggles. He is such a ham sometimes. We buzz through the veggie section and Hayes laughs at the Brussels sprouts and radishes. He finds them completely hysterical. Then a woman with a brand new baby walks past and in that second, my world stopped. I looked back at my boy, my sweet, wild as wild can be wiggly toddler boy and all those sweet moments of newbornhood I realized had been fading one by one flashed back along with all the emotions in just a beat of a second.

I have been struggling the last few weeks to handle this ever growing distance that has shown up as we approach him being 1 year old. Just before Thanksgiving Hayes began weaning. I have never been a woman who had to nurse. I had vowed to always live by the rule in motherhood that if it worked go with it and if it didn’t move forward and towards another solution. It is how I live and perceive life beyond motherhood, so when it worked for us I went with it. I made no commitment to the length and instead said I would stick with it till at some point it felt it wasn’t working for our family if it ever came to that, but overtime I found comfort in it and so did he. I found myself loving even the middle of the night wakings he would have when they were quick and just to eat of course. As much as I longed to know what it felt like to sleep through the night again and to retrieve my brain again, I enjoyed every ounce of those sweet moments of just him and I and the connection we would have. The more he moved and pushed away from me, the more precious I felt they were.

THoughts on Motherhood as we approach 1 year.  Read The Fresh Exchange for the full story.

When we were going through our move for two weeks from Raleigh to Michigan, I had been extremely stressed and we had to start supplementing Hayes. Then cue getting a nasty case of food poisoning over Thanksgiving and an overnight trip away and Hayes began the natural process of choosing to wean on his own. Weeks prior I was ready in all honesty, but I had vowed not to make the choice about it till he was a year. Then one night about a week ago at EXACTLY 10 months he pushed me away and decided the bottle was his thing after weeks of choosing me. At first, I was confused but then it clicked that he was choosing to be done. My extremely independent wild child was telling me this time we enjoyed together was no longer necessary for him.

At first, I felt relief in so many ways. I am terrible at being needed. I don’t do well with firm commitments and enjoy the time I spend alone. I thrive on freedom which has been a struggle for me in motherhood, but love is a wild thing that makes you give things up you never thought you couldn’t. I knew that I could begin feeling myself again (those pesky hormonese that cloud and fog my brain as a new mom would dissipate) and my body now for the first time in over 2 years was 100% mine again for a time being and as much as it ever is as a mother.

THoughts on Motherhood as we approach 1 year.  Read The Fresh Exchange for the full story.

But the last few days I have gone through this roller coaster of emotions and some of it has to do with those wonderful hormones, but some of it is the accepting and grieving of the closure of year one with him. When he pushed me away that night it was just like there was a light switch that flipped inside of him, and since then I have been realizing more and more how quickly this relationship between us has changed in such a short time. I know it continues to change, but the rate in which it changes in this first year or nearly impossible to grapple with. There is only so long you can hold them closely and only so long you can rock them and only so long that they will fall asleep in your arms. Those days are passing rapidly for me and some of it I think is him and how he is either fully on going after anything and everything or fully off passed out in his crib for the night these days. Cuddling doesn’t exist more than reading books from time to time or for the brief moment before a nap. He wants me to hold him but only to see what is on the counter. He wants me to hold his hand only for him to walk. Soon he will be running in every direction and though I will always be his safe place and where he finds comfort, I realize how precious more than ever those days in the beginning are. Even in the sleepless haze of it all and how I longed to have me back, I now know here in this time just how short those weeks and months are in the grand scheme.

THoughts on Motherhood as we approach 1 year.  Read The Fresh Exchange for the full story.

Seeing a newborn baby reminded me of the coos and the little noises of my now babbling little boy. It reminded me that even in the difficulties of life there is nothing more precious than the moments we have with one another. There is nothing like having a child to know what it is to love something more than yourself and to continually watch this small part of you growing into something so strong and independent and then to daily step little by little further and further away from you both physically and emotionally.

That night as I put Hayes to bed, I tried not to think about how our routine has now changed, but instead I soaked up the smells of his little head knowing soon that it would soon disappear and smell of a little boy and one day a teenager and a young man. I cuddled him all that he would let me before he pushed to be placed in his bed to sleep through for the night (yes can you believe it?!) I have teared up so many times this week more or less because of the joy I feel that his desire of independence means I am doing my job well, but also out of grieving babyhood of him and that there is nothing that can be done to slow down this ever growing distance that happens day one of them arriving on the other side. What I find comfort in is that it all happened as it should and we survived and in fact, somehow we thrived even when we felt we didn’t. To be here approaching 1 year and watching him attempt first steps I know this is just as it is meant to be. Though it is so hard at times to say goodbye to those sweet days of babyhood and enter a new phase of toddlerhood, I feel I can leave this phase and part of this journey knowing I have done the best I could, preserved the moments as well as I could, and have learned to become my best self in the process.

THoughts on Motherhood as we approach 1 year.  Read The Fresh Exchange for the full story.

So, I know there are many of you mamas somewhere in this journey that have found so much comfort in my posts and connection and I have to tell you that if you have a little one that still lets you cuddle them, cuddle them. Soak it up. I know now that when I even think of having #2 my calm will be far greater knowing how short the time is. It is hard work but those cuddles, those smells, those sounds, they are the most precious and fleeting thing in parenthood. I know now why parents cry at graduations and when their kids score goals or get a part in a play or get married. You forever still feel that child of yours as that sweet cooing and helpless newborn that broke you and taught you love you only know when you become a parent.

Other mamas, did you feel this as you weaned? I have a few friends who have talked about having some blues and sadness about realizing their babies are no longer baby babies. I am realizing so quickly he is a toddler now. My goodness it is both amazing, sad, exhausting haha, and best of all a complete blast! Would love to hear from some of you on how you felt when approaching the one-year-old mark.

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  1. I absolutely remember seeing a little baby with a mother and thinking, “Hmm. I used to have one of those. What happened?”
    I thought weaning was hard. It took forever, which was OK. My kid was about 2, so by then it was just at bedtime and more for antibodies than for nutrition (my kid never got sick, even years later). And i was sad that my little bundle wouldn’t be calm and relaxed in my arms. Sad because it went by so fast. But there are so many wonders that come with them growing up. The astounding conversations. The revelations.
    And some things never change. My mom’s hugs, even just her hand touching my shoulder or my arm, created a safe space, no matter how old I got.

  2. MY son is almost 16 MONTHS and I have that strange feeling of time going slowly but at the same time I ask myself ‘WHEre did my baby go?!’ I watch him running around the supermarket helping with the groceries or learning to climb on the COUCH with that face of his so pleased with himself my heart bursts at how far he has COME. I LOOK at his HAND and feet Christmas ORNAMENTs from last year and wonder how they are now twice as BIG and holding my new baby niece I wonder how he was ever as light as HER. I could talk forever about motherhood but it is ALSo so hard to put into WORDS, sometimes there just are no words, everything that has changed over the last 2 YEARS and all the emotions that go with it! Not only am I watching him grow but seeing it in myself as I grow with him trying to do the best we CAN, mainly SUCCEEDING,sometimes FAILING but not beating ourselves up over it. I was unable to nurse so have a different experience to you but I can say that those close moments especially AT 3am are something I will cherish FOREVER and now we’re making different close memories together and STRENGTHENING the bond. It’s hard to let go but it’s so exciting to see the next STAGE! The biggest thing I NOTICEd was a massive difference in Culloch when he found his feet and became the independent (and very DETERMINED!) toddler he is now, he’s more content because he can do so much for himself he couldn’t before, the cuddles came back 🙂 albeit a bit more wriggly and up and down than BEFORE! he now brings toys or books to Me so he can then settle on my knee to tell me his thoughts in his excited babble. He wants to show ME the world through his eyes and it is just magical.

  3. Thank you for this post. My new baby will be one month later this week and I’m already seeing how quickly she’s changing and needing me less / in different ways. Your words summed things up much better than my very sleep deprived brain could currently form. Thank you.

    1. Soak it up! I know how hard those weeks and days are and in all honesty, I didn’t feel like it all really settled for me till about 8 months, but soak it up and enjoy it as much as you can in between the hard moments. It makes all the better, but you will also know you took it all in the best you could and that makes it slightly easier when they get bigger and aren’t cuddly anymore.

  4. Oh my gosh i connect with EVERYTHING you wrote. I have a 16 month old and i still feel like i was just pregnant when i see a woman who is expecting. I hesitate when i Say “my baby” because he is my “little boy” now. Its amazing and so so fun but i too miss the days he fell asleep in my arMs, and needed me to Nurse. Having my body back and dressing however i want is amazing- bUt i miss Those days every single day.

  5. I’m on the verge of becoming a mother for the first time between now and the end of 2016, and even looking down at my belly and knowing i won’t have my baby boy next to me for too much longer breaks me. and once he’s born, it’s the beginning of the end. i suppose it’s a strange way to look at this beautiful time, but it also soothes me to know that i’ll be raising someone to eventually be out on his own.

    oh man, tears can stop now.

  6. Megan, you are wise beyond your years! I am A GRANDMOTHER who is relishing being part of the “village” it takes to raise my daughter’s daughter. Hayes is one lucky little fella! I thInk that yOu will find joy in each and EVERY PHASE of his life. That’s just who you are! Having followed your blOg since before you got pregnant, i am struck by your honesty and ability to communicate your feelings. I respect The intentionality of your lIfe.

  7. My experience is ThAT things do NOT evolve linearly. My now 2-year old son went through this phase of “no Cuddles” and now HE KISSES US ALL THE TIME. Probably related to his jealousy towArds his 9-months old sister, but who cares? 🙂

  8. Both of mine were weaned at 7 months! They dropped a LOT of weight, & we realized that my body just decided it was DONE. I was really okay with that, because I was pretty done feeling too. 😀 However… my moment of sadness that REALLY struck me was when we didn’t need the high chair anymore. For some reason, I almost cried when both of my “babies” outgrew the need for the vintage high chair we have, & I tucked it in our bedroom to be stored in the attic. I know that feeling of distance all too well! With it, though, come the best moments. First words, sentences, the funny things they come up with. We’re in a fun stage with Z-man saying all kinds of hilarious things! The best is when he’s singing praise music in the backseat of the car. 🙂

  9. “I have a hard time being needed.” I love this line because it’s exactly how i feel. I have always felt a bit ashamed about it. i thrive on alone time, but even i struggled with weaning. we weaned at 15 months by his choice. i also felt relief. it wasn’t working for either of us, but i find myself missing those quiet moments with him. my son is now 20 months and he still sleeps with us. it is time to move him to his own bed, but selfishly i’m hanging on because i know he is growing up too fast. i’m trying to hang on to every last midnight snuggle. soon he will be a boy and then a man. i do my best to just stay present, but it’s hard at times. i feel where you are coming from. thanks for sharing. the fact that you were aware of your feelings is great mindfulness!

    1. Thanks Abby! Seriously enjoying your comments! So glad I wasn’t alone in that feeling. It was a hard one to admit. I knew that going into motherhood I would struggle with it and I for sure have to have balance. Enjoy the snuggles. You are totally right it goes so quick.