This essay originally appeared on Calla Press Literary Journal.
Somewhere between rage-cleaning the kitchen and a ten-minute tidy, I decide it’s time. I reach into the bin and grab the avocado rattle—the one my first son shook around as he giggled when he was 4 months old. I place it in the donation pile. A few teething toys go in right after, including the mint green one with the wooden circles—both of my boys loved that one. I notice the little lion toy nearby, and tears start to gather on my lashes. I look up to see my almost one-year-old spin the wheel of a truck and stare at it in fascination. He’s still a baby, but somehow in this moment, he looks like a whole toddler. My last baby is growing up.
I’m crying when my husband walks in. “I’m just having a moment,” I tell him, my voice shaking. I gather the rest of the little baby toys and place them in the pile. I peer into the googly eyes of the lion and suddenly I’m pulled backwards in time. It’s three years ago and I’m sitting on the couch watching my son shake it aggressively while kicking his feet in the baby swing. Then I’m jolted forward closer to the present. I’m at the dining room table where my oldest tosses the lion into the air to entertain his baby brother. Their giggles echo in my mind. Somehow, their delight is forever attached to this toy now. One day, I’ll get rid of it.
My baby turns one in a couple of days. Unless God intervenes, there will be no more newborn snuggles, no monkey stretches, and no more of that fresh, sweet baby smell. Soon, his chunky thighs, massive cheeks, and arms that give Hawaiian sweet rolls a run for their money will thin out just like his brother’s did. The baby stage is my favorite, and it’s coming to a close. I don’t want it to.
I know that it has to, though. My body is breaking…