My Baby is Growing Up Way Too Fast!

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My daughter Ava is only 4 ½ years old. My cat is three times her age; I’m embarrassed to say that my underwear outdates her by 5 years. I have a bag of peas in my freezer older than her. But lately, 4 ½ looks and sounds more mature that I could have imagined—and a little premenstrual. When I tried to explain to my daughter the importance of a matching outfit, Ava responded, “I like my own fashion, Mommy”—a style which I describe as “ninja-goth.” Once dressed in the outfit of her liking, she turned to me and declared: “Now I won’t feel embarrassed by my clothes.”

My daughter Ava is only 4 ½ years old. My cat is three times her age; I’m embarrassed to say that my underwear outdates her by 5 years. I have a bag of peas in my freezer older than her. But lately, 4 ½ looks and sounds more mature that I could have imagined—and a little premenstrual. When I tried to explain to my daughter the importance of a matching outfit, Ava responded, “I like my own fashion, Mommy”—a style which I describe as “ninja-goth.” Once dressed in the outfit of her liking, she turned to me and declared: “Now I won’t feel embarrassed by my clothes.”

Maybe I'm Getting Older

Two days ago, she wrote her first word other than her own name. It was “Nick,” the name of the little boy in her Pre-K class who she runs from on the playground. I promptly asked if she knew how to spell “Mom” and she stared at me blankly. To make matters worse, she later followed up Nick’s name with a heart and then her own name. Okay, I get it. I’m in trouble. Maybe kids these days are growing up faster. Maybe it’s because my husband lets her watch Glee (she’s still trying to figure out the Kurt character—whenever he comes on screen she announces, “That’s a boy,” as if clarifying the matter). Or maybe complaining about the ways of each subsequent generation is just a sign that I’m getting older.

Reminiscing About Babyhood

Whatever it is, I’m not ready for it. The other night my husband came across a video of Ava when she was just a year old. She was standing in her crib, reaching for her bedroom door and prying it open with her plump little hand. She peeked out the door at my husband who was holding the camera and then she began to cry for him to pick her up. That’s when I turned into a blubbery mess and said, “I want my baby back!” As far as dramatic action goes, it’s a lame video. But for my husband and me, it was like being transported back to the time of diapers and naps, Elmo and Butt Paste. It feels like a lifetime ago, especially since today when I accused her of picking her nose, she said, “I’m not picking my nose; I’m picking my nostril.” But regardless of how much I delight in watching her grow and discover the world around her, a part of me mourns the years that are already gone. Her babyhood. Her complete dependence on me. Her inability to talk back.

Do I Want Another Baby?

I don’t want to turn back the clock. Not really. But with ten million naked-baby digital prints, I get a little nostalgic. I even start to think that maybe I should have another baby. When I mention this to my husband, he immediately hits the pause button on the remote and suggests that we instead watch some Kate Plus 8. When I think about it a little longer, I realize that I don’t want another baby; I want the baby in the video—my baby—if just for a moment. I want to remember what it feels like to wrap her into a tiny baby burrito and rock her to sleep while pressing my lips against her head. I want to relive the moment that I touched her for the first time, brushing her cheek with my finger, scared that I was going to do it all wrong.

Hardest Part of Parenting

I knew parenting was going to be hard, but I didn’t expect that one of the hardest parts would be watching my child grow into a happy, beautiful, independent person, because that also means watching her take faint little steps away from me. How ironic. How crappy.

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