Making the decision to start a family is one of life’s biggest milestones. It’s journey takes love, patience and even guts. But what about the decision to close the chapter of growing your family… making the transition to the season of solely raising and nurturing your children?
How do you come to this milestone? And even more importantly, how do you say goodbye to the babyhood years?
As a mother who absolutely adored the babyhood years, I’ve found the struggle to close this chapter of my life not only difficult, but yearning to stop time in its tracks.
For every season of struggle, there’s a season of strength
With so many seasons of motherhood, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that some women thrive in seasons, while others find the same season to be a day to day struggle. Some will see the babyhood years as anything but a foggy state of survival, while for others the schoolyard years will bear most of the burden. These seasons can so easily feel like they are defining our motherhood journey.
Maybe you’re feeling like your crushing it? Everyday your soul feels fulfilled, yearning to tackle the next day because you know in this moment that you were meant to be a mother. Or maybe right now your on the other side of the spectrum? Struggling to breath… to live up to the expectations you set for yourself or others have for you. You’re left wondering if you were really cut out for motherhood, and constantly thinking your family would be better off without your constant failures.
While my heart yearned for more squishy babies to kiss, cuddle and nurse, I knew that this desire would really never go away for me. Because I loved the babyhood years so much, and felt naturally good at it.
I just wanted to stay in the babyhood years forever
Right now, I’m feeling like the later. Mothering the babyhood years came so naturally for me. The breastfeeding, the sleep training… those close intimate moments of skin on skin. I was patient. I was kind. I was gentle. I felt like I could stay in this season forever, and I wanted to.
But then our family got bigger, our children became older, and it came time to make the big decision to close the babyhood chapter, no matter how difficult it might be to say goodbye. I wanted to stay in those days of sleepy, milk drunk cuddles – our chests rising and falling at the same time, where time didn’t matter in those moments, and neither did anything else on life’s to-do list. It was a quiet, slow way of living that was met with just a few moments of unknowns.
Time has other plans, and we were hurdling into a new season much faster than what we desired
When it came time to welcome our daughter into the family, our two oldest boys had already reached the toddler and preschool years. They were thriving, bumbling boys, always making messes, guaranteed to e destroying something in the process and giving you the sweetest hugs and intense gazes of love any human being could muster. In some bizarre array of emotion, they could make me feel like a raging enforcer of decent behaviour, and a puddle of lovestruck mush.
And now as a family of five, wrangling in an array of emotions from multiple kids everyday, I could feel myself diverting further and further from that natural mother I always felt before. To now resembling someone who’s entered life’s rat race with their patience being hurdled out the window at lighting speed. I have found myself yelling more than calming the situation with a steady voice, emotionally drained and just at my limit.
We knew it was time even though my heart yearned for more
In those moments, we knew it was time. Time to close the babyhood years, and begin to focus on the raising and nurturing of the children we had welcomed into the world. While my heart yearned for more squishy babies to kiss, cuddle and nurse, I knew that this desire would really never go away for me. Because I loved the babyhood years so much, and felt naturally good at it… I’d always yearn to stay in that season. And to be honest, I knew that wouldn’t be fair to my family. They deserved the best of me, and to give that, I needed to be honest with myself. I’m was at my limit. No more babies.
And I think that was a really good thing to realize- my limit. While I wish I could be amazing in every season of motherhood, I know that’s not realistic. And saying goodbye to babyhood, a season I felt I excelled in was hard. And it still is. But now, even though I find the day to day struggle to be overwhelming at times, I can focus on the season I’m in, and practice my best mothering.
Practicing the art of motherhood and moving forward
I love that word: practice. It allows me to struggle, but it also allows me to grow rather than trying my best, which, can result in failing. Practicing the art of motherhood means that I can constantly be moving forward, and so can you. You can say goodbye to the babyhood years. It might be difficult, because like me, you feel like you were in a natural state of nurturing. Perhaps you’re very nostalgic, and realizing these years will be memories from now on might be difficult to grasp. But you can do it.
How and when you choose to say goodbye to the babyhood years will look different for every family
So I’m not going to tell you when or how you should say goodbye, rather I’ll leave you with some encouraging news. You can enjoy the next season of motherhood and every season after. Why? Because there will be so many joyous and redeeming moments in your motherhood journey!
And while I’m struggling with the season I’m in now, there’s not a day that goes by where there hasn’t been a redeeming moment. Whether that’s a genuine smile from my child that shows understanding of what it means to receive grace, or a forgiving hug I’m receiving that humbles and grounds me.
We are growing together- practicing how to love one another, and receiving that love gracefully. And now, finally, I feel like I can officially say goodbye to the babyhood years, and hello to life’s next adventure as our complete family of five!
All photography by: Jaleesa Mateazzi Photography
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