So I did a thing the other day. I sold the high chair. Now let me preface this by saying I have been planning to have a bonfire with this thing for probably at least a year. I had basically given up trying to clean it except for the actual tray. But the amount of crusted on food, dog slobber and God knows what else was enough to make even the strongest of stomachs quake. Hence my dreams of the bonfire. That said, however, I suppose with some major arm strength and potent chemicals, that chair has the potential to have a long, happy life.
Now for the most part, so far it seems I have not been a sentimental person when it comes to my kids’ stuff. Which, I’m actually strangely perplexed by. This coming from the person who has oddly saved every single paper and notebook I ever used from eighth grade through college. And after hauling these heavy-ass totes through three moves I feel like it’s just wrong to throw them out now. So under the basement stairs is where they live, because obviously my freshman year Spanish homework is important, but my kids’ baby items are not.
But back to my point – over the past seven years as soon as my kids have outgrown something I’ve done my best to get rid of it, with the exception of a select few items. I’ve just had no desire to hang on to all that stuff because to me, that’s exactly what it was – just stuff. It didn’t represent my babies or our memories together. That is however, until I had already gotten rid of the high chair. It was one of my favorite gifts from my baby shower – over seven years ago (gasp). It was one of the “nicer” things I wanted. It was wooden, semi-expensive and once upon a time looked pretty. And due to the closeness in age of my kiddos, it was essentially used every single day for the past seven years.
Now I had no problems handing it over to the next era of users. Until of course I went to bed, and on queue, my brain fired right up. And then it truly hit me that this was really the last thing that represented my babies. And now it was gone. Which basically translated to my babies are gone. I have never been a baby person. Not my own, not other people’s. Even after having three, they still tend to scare me. So while so many of my friends swoon over the precious little bundles of joy, I’m totally fine keeping my distance.
But still I had three and I love them all. And while I still consider myself clueless because they’re all so different, raising each baby gave me different memories, different experiences, different lessons. So while even thinking about having another baby sends me into an immediate panic attack, getting rid of this high chair solidified the fact that I will never go through those experiences again. And while I hate to even admit this, I’m sad. So many of those milestone “firsts” I’ll never witness again. And while I’m ALL for my kids expanding their independence (in terms of self-care at least!) this is still a reminder that I’m just not as needed as I once was. That’s a hard thing to swallow.
I will never be one of those people lecturing younger moms to “cherish these years because they go by so fast.” I hear that all the time and frankly it drives me nuts. Maybe it’s because deep down I know it’s true. Maybe it’s because I have a hard time thinking about the future because I’m knee-deep in the shit that comes with the present. Maybe it’s because I’m just damn tired. And yeah, yeah, I’m well aware that I can “rest when I’m dead” but still. Knowing how to live and actually living that way are two different things.
That said, however, after experiencing the joy, the grief and even the pride that I’ve been feeling over the past week from letting go of this high chair, I’m trying to use these emotions as my own personal lesson. Because as annoying and cliche as it is that “I’ll miss this when it’s gone” it’s just the plain truth. No, I won’t miss everything. I won’t miss bouncing that screaming baby for hours on end during the night. I won’t miss those level 10 blowouts where you just start tossing everything into the garbage because you’re both covered from head to toe in shit and the garbage is all you can see through your tears. But I will miss those adorable baby smiles that you see when they’re sleeping. I will miss when those tiny baby hands grasp your finger and won’t let go. And yes, I’ll even miss when the baby cries for everyone except me because they know that I’m their mom. Those are the experiences I can’t get back, but they’re the memories that will stay with me forever.
With the upcoming school year approaching I’m going to try to remember to slow down even when things are speeding up. I’m going to try to remember their smiles on their first day of school (because we all know that won’t last). And I’m going to try to hug them for a few seconds longer every night. In between the constant daily chaos, the fighting, the screaming and the tears, there’s always memories to be had. Lessons to be learned. And a life to live. I just need to remember to live it.