She’s technically not a baby anymore. She’s entered toddlerhood and is constantly running away from me, scaling furniture, and wanting to do whatever her big sister is doing. But when I look at Baby Rae (yes, we all still call her Baby Rae), all I see is my baby girl – the little one who still nurses in the wee hours of the morning, the child who calls out for her rescuer, “Mommy! Mommy!” when she gets stuck in the toy box she never stops climbing into for a fun thrill, and the one who still sees me as an all-powerful lady whose kisses and embrace can heal any hurt.
It makes no difference if there is an even smaller, needier baby growing inside of me. Rae is still my baby. Even Madeline, who turns 4 next month, is my baby.
I won’t always have to ply my kiddos with food or rock them in my arms while gently shushing their wailing. Babies don’t keep – at least not physically. Even their absolute dependency is ephemeral. But that emotional connection that first sparked the moment I discovered I was pregnant with each child, that’s permanent. Maternal love grows with children even as they outgrow their mother’s arms. I don’t speak from personal experience; really, my babies still are babies. Yet, I’m almost 30 and my own mom says she still thinks of me as her baby girl. Motherhood is one job where there’s no such thing as early retirement. Thank goodness for that.