Written by Kellie Wicklund, MA, NCP, LPC
“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
and next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.”
-T. S. Eliot
Motherhood has so many losses. It holds more endings than I ever would have guessed, or adequately predicted – and there is change around every turn. With the thrill of a new word, a honed trick, a next milestone comes the end of something else. Thus, like in many other areas of life, in parenthood endings and beginnings are inextricably linked. Some stages I happily say good-riddance to; stumbling over baby gates in the night, sleep-deprived catatonia, leaking breasts, the toddler’s wild-banshee screaming in frustration of wordlessness – and later when words do emerge, the endless chanting of “mine!”
Other stages I miss dearly; the smallness and newness of a tiny-one, middle of the night nursing in the deep quiet, the hilarious formulating of gibberish/words. Sometimes the ending is clear and definitive. Other times the ending it just slips away unnoticed and stays lost until a photo or video releases it from the vault of memory and we all exclaim, older brother included, ‘oh yeah, that was so sweet/funny/wonderful… *sigh*’. And in those moments, it’s like remembering an old friend we haven’t seen in a while. The older, more sophisticated version is of course still with us, but we all so loved the older model, too, that it feels like a loss. But some moments of transition, when I’m lucky enough to experience them, stay with me. It was like this the other night when I could see that my youngest son was only about 2% baby now, and 98% boy. And the baby was going fast….
On Christmas night he awoke and needed soothing. I held him in my arms as he quickly returned to sleep. This full-gusto ball of energy was uncharacteristically limp in my arms. I was wide awake, and my mind was whirling with memories of his birth, his sweet sounds and smells, and our journey together. It was a clear mix of joy and sorrow. This baby of mine, who is teetering on the edge of two, on the precipice of boyhood, who is lengthening before my eyes, is growing up faster than I can bear. I can’t make it slow down. (…or speed up for that matter – in the particularly hairy moments!) All I can do is make conscious memories and savor them with all my might. The end is indeed a new beginning.
So on this night, close to New Years’, I stand on the bridge between two different years and a looming milestone. I find myself filled with precious memories and looking ahead. I watch with a poignant sorrow and joy, as my baby becomes boy. I am faced with the challenge of holding both emotions at the same time, and hoping to give both the grief and the hope a voice in the journey. I’ll bet this place is familiar to you as well, and what are we to do? We certainly cannot go backwards, and would we even want to? Even if we could, would it help? It would only prolong the inevitable, keeping us from walking forward into the ‘what’s next’, for us, with our growing children. We would risk missing all the good that lies ahead. Like T.S. Eliot writes; “…and next year’s words await another voice, and to make an end is to make a beginning.”
Happy New Year to you and yours, whatever stage you may find them in!