Overheard on Wednesdays: Mourning Baby

Today is a total stroller fest. I’m jonesing for my Wednesday morning cup of coffee, my local hang, and some good old eavesdropping. But just getting in my order is a challenge with all this stroller traffic. It seems the coffee shop has been overrun with a group of moms in athleticwear who, judging by the sleeping babes, have just completed their neighborhood walk and are sitting down with their cappuccinos.

I take on the obstacle course over to an empty table nestled in all the prams, and manage to make it there miraculously without spilling a drop.

Listening in on the nearest table, one mom has a birthday on the horizon….12 months in 4 days! She’s sharing her monthly milestone pics and judging by the little glimpse I sneaked, they’re gorgeous. Eleven different images that feature the baby’s age in some fresh flowers, display a chalkboard with some cute facts, and show an extra adorable baby smiling right alongside it all.

I’m totally drawn in. My son’s own birthday is coming up...except instead of going on 12 months, he’s going on 12 years. And I couldn’t be more thrilled! Here I am, a table away, sharing this stranger’s joy in watching our kids grow up...two moms in our journeys, each reaching a different milestone.

And then this happens:

Oh, my mama heart’s breaking. Where has my baby gone?! I mean look at his dimples and rolls here...they’re already gone. He was such a little squish and now he’s all grown up. It just brings tears to my eyes. Twelve months old! I can’t even! His chubby cheeks...chunky thighs...wrist dimples…why can’t I just freeze him in time?!?

She literally starts crying, sobbing even.

The other moms join in, half consoling half grieving themselves. I’m totally weirded out. I felt like we were sharing something...but now, I just can’t relate.

She’s actually grieving about her gorgeous, healthy baby boy growing up?! She wants to freeze him in time?!?!?!

Is it really all downhill from here? At 12 months?! I mean, at 12 months, there are more good times to come that have already been had. A bud isn’t beautiful just because it’s a bud. It’s also beautiful in its promise to unfold...to dazzle you with all its extra layers...to show you something you didn’t know was there. To live in the past….deny him a life beyond dimples and thigh rolls….is just sad.

I don’t know...maybe I’ve just never been an infant-obsessed woman. But I find each stage a celebration. I’ve never had the instinct to grieve. I’ve never felt a loss watching my children grow up. Each day, week, month, year means more to love.

It doesn’t seem fair to grow up in an environment where your biggest champion wants to freeze you in time...to hold you back...keep you cute instead of letting you become beautiful.

I can’t listen anymore. I flip over my coffee receipt, grab a pen, and write down this promise:

I will not mourn the chubby cheeks gone. I don’t want to freeze you in time, darling. The present is your present and it’s a culmination of everything you’ve done, everything you’ve thought, every tear you’ve cried, the memories you’ve made, and the ones you chose to throw away….it’s the culmination of everything you are, sweetheart. And I love and respect all of it.

Never will I become that kind of mother.

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Tags : overheard on wednesdays   confessions   motherhood   

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