It’s been a great week.  I had a productive three days at work, Jules and I reveled in nearly every sun-shiny minute of our mama-daughter time on Thursday and Friday, we’ve hit the lake and the playground and the neighborhood diner as a family this weekend, we’ve hung out on the back porch and eaten burgers and corn on the cob and grilled peaches with fresh whipped cream – life is pretty grand these days.

And yet…in the midst of all this good stuff I’ve felt this intense, nagging sense of anxiety bubbling right under the surface.  Like I could cry at any moment, like I can’t fully catch my breath.  It started on Sunday night, when I went to the fridge to label and pack up Juliette’s bottles for the next day and realized just how little milk I’d pumped over the prior three days – I sighed as I dug into our freezer stock, feeling discouraged by my quickly-decreasing supply.  And then I teetered on the edge of a meltdown on Wednesday when I went to visit Jules at lunch and said good-bye to her favorite teacher, who has taken a job elsewhere – Jules and I have both become so attached to her over the past few months.  My stomach flip-flopped when I got an email from daycare on Friday afternoon that said they thought Juliette was ready to move up into the next classroom, that come September 2nd she’ll be leaving the nursery and hanging out with the waddlers all day.  She’ll be sitting at a table for meals and feeding herself and taking one nap a day, at the same time as all the other kids.  Shane came home that evening and hadn’t even set his bag down before I looked up at him and burst into tears.  “They’re moving her up!  No more bottles and no more highchairs and no more napping whenever she wants!  She’s not reeeeaaaaaady!”  Shane agreed – the thought of our little girl, our baby, sitting at a table seems absurd.  But…she is pulling herself up to standing every chance she gets, starting to test her balance on her wobbly legs.  And she is doing more and more self-feeding, preferring bits of meat of veggies and cheese to her purees.  And in this new classroom she’ll get the chance to go out for walks to the playground a couple of times a day, which certainly beats staying indoors.  So…is she really not ready?  Or am I not ready?  Probably the latter.  Mostly.

My baby’s gettin’ all growed up.  And it’s making me incredibly sad.

There’s a long list of things I decidedly don’t miss about her newborn days – the rivers of spit-up, the 2 am marathon bouncing sessions, the swaddling and re-swaddling and re-re-swaddling as she wiggled out of her blanket, that pang of anxiety I felt every time we left the house.  But then there are those precious memories that have already become fuzzy around the edges, like the way she’d sprawl across my chest and completely crash after a long feeding, or the way she’d sleep with her arms stretched straight out in front of her, like she was conducting an orchestra in her dreams.  I miss draping her over my shoulder, carrying her with her head nuzzled into the side of my neck.  I might be talking crazy here, but I even miss the overwhelming newness of parenthood, those first few months of getting to know our daughter, when every new sound or facial expression sent us over the moon.  I talked to my mom and dad last night about my melancholy longing for days gone by, and they reminded me that parenthood is a lifelong process of letting go – they recalled how hard it was to say good-bye to me once they’d settled me into my new dorm at college, how it felt to watch me board a plane to France for my year abroad.  Sooooo, I thought, I’m facing decades more of this?!  That was hardly comforting.  But they also said how wonderful it is that Juliette is thriving, that it’s a sign that Shane and I are doing something right.  Our helpless little seven-pound babe has tripled her weight and mastered that goofy rockstar grin and learned how to crawl because we have fed her and lavished love upon her and cheered her on at every bend in the road.  And to be honest, the cheering is awfully fun (particularly now that she mimics our claps and often cheers with us, smiling a silly Yay Me! smile when she does something new).  We spent this afternoon at Seward Park, and as I watched Juliette happily cruise around the water in the float toy that a sweet little girl let us borrow, I found such joy in seeing her kick her chubby legs and experience something new.  I saw flash-forwards of teaching her how to swim and read and ride a bike, and I felt a surprising rush of excitement for all that lies ahead.

20140810 seward park sm

And then she started to bob toward the shore and I grabbed her and brought her close to me, because gosh, I’m not ready to let go.  I still really really miss our baby.

20130928 milk drunk sm