One of my mantras to Braden is that "no matter how old you get, you'll always be my baby." It's one I find myself saying more and more to him lately, as he starts riding a bike and dressing himself and being embarrassed to hug me in public. Being the adorable kid he is, he often repeats it back to me, saying, "Mommy, you'll always be my baby too."
It melts my heart. Because it's true. He'll always be my baby.
But in reality, I don't have a baby anymore.
Somehow, just like that, my kids have graduated from babyhood. With Braden I didn't really have time to think about it. When he was officially becoming a toddler, I was pregnant and already preparing for the next baby - buying another crib, stocking up on 3-6 month clothing, and re-sterilizing bottles. We never sold or stored the baby toys or the changing pads or the diaper champs - they barely had dust on them by the time Casey was born.
And then there was the whirlwind of Casey - a joy, but also a shock. We were thrown back into the madness of having an infant, on top of a toddler, and for a long while, we just managed to survive. And then came my departure from my job and Braden starting school and life generally, and somehow time went by and both of my babies are no longer babies. And for some reason, I am really mourning that.
For four years, I have had a diaper in my purse.
For four years, I have had a crib in the house. Teething toys. Bottles. Footie pajamas. Cheerios in all crevices of my bed and body and floor.
For four years, I have had a baby.
And now I have two boys. Two kids. Who I love more than ANYTHING in the world. But I don't have a baby.
This weekend we made it official and finally packed up all the bottles, threw away all the baby food (which had been sitting in an unused portion of our pantry for over nine months), and sorted all the baby toys into two piles - keep and toss.
I tried to remind myself that I will in fact probably have a diaper in my purse for a while longer. Casey will be 2 in October, and realistically, I'll probably have a good nine months to a year more with that diaper in the side pocket. But it's days are numbered.
In many ways, that will be great. Life will be easier. On to a new phase. I can maybe even buy a new purse - one that doesn't have to have a side pocket for a diaper and doesn't have crusted milk at its seams.
But I don't know that I'm ready for that new purse yet - to fully say goodbye to my diaper filled, baby-centric purse.
I love that purse.
So for now, I'm keeping it. You never know. You just never know.