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Sniff, I've Realized My Last Child's Milestones Are Also My Lasts As a Parent

This morning my daughter, our youngest child, was crawling on the dishwasher as my husband was emptying it, standing on the door with a red spatula in her hand. I gently removed her from the door, told her "no," and she toddled to the kitchen door to look outside at her kitten. Her kitten, Tiger Lily, is a dilute calico, and she likes to rest in a basket on our back porch, basking in the warmth of the sunlight. My daughter stands and stares at the cat as she sleeps. As I watched this all unfold, I said to my husband, "Wow, she's our last child." He looked at me and chuckled, because we both know she's our last one. And while I'm confident and secure in our decision, there's a part of me that was awakened in that moment that is a bit sad that this is the last time I'll have a 1-year-old in my house. And, even at age 1, final baby milestones have already passed:

  • This is the last time I will form and carry life in my belly.
  • This is the last time I will introduce an older sibling to a new baby.
  • This is the last time a baby cried for the first time in my arms.
  • This is the last time one of our babies will learn to crawl.
  • This is the last time we paced the floor with a restless baby.
  • This is the last time we waited for a child to walk.
  • This is the last time we heard a child's first word.
  • This is the last time we taught a baby to play "Pat-a-Cake" or to sing a song.
  • This is the last time I will nurse a baby to sleep and hold her as she drifts into dreamland.
  • This is the last time I will take a baby's wet hair and twist it around my finger to make her strawberry blonde curls hold.
  • This is the last time I will wait for a baby to say "mama."
  • This is the last time I will watch small, little teeth break through the gum line, forming a smile I will end up knowing anywhere.
  • This is the last time I will hold my breath as she first sets off running after her brother.

This is the last, and the last, and the last....

Yes, I have many firsts ahead of me, too—like sending my firstborn to kindergarten this year or listening to my baby girl form her first complete sentence. And mostly, I breathe a sigh of relief that we made it through the first year of her life—through the postpartum depression, the nights of only two hours of sleep, and the days of adjusting to a family of four. But I would not be telling the truth if I said that I won't miss all of the firsts we've already gone through. It is bittersweet to know that my days of having babies in the house are numbered and that life will go on with older kids. So then again, I can't help but think to myself, "Wow, she's our last child."

Kara Lawler is a mother, wife and teacher. She writes about the divide that is mothering our children while also mothering our spirit and the sacred on her blog, Mothering the Divide. Kara writes for the Huffington Post and has been featured on the Today Show's social media sites. She's been published on Scary Mommy, Club Mid, and Mamalode. Come, join her tribe on Facebook.