When your baby’s not a baby anymore

Our babiest baby turned four on yesterday, but anyone we’ve ran into in the past few months already knows that.

“My birf-day is April twenty-fifth — two five!” she’s been announcing proudly, just in case someone was unclear on the meaning of twenty-fifth.

We’re entering birthday season in our house. Our son, our eldest, is turning six in June and I’m not feeling much more than mild amusement. It’s like, “Wow, six! I’ve been a parent for six years?! Huh. Crazy.”

It’s going to be a happy occasion, heavy on the superheroes and Lego. He’s hounding us daily if he can open his gifts early (no) and that’s about it. Six isn’t a shocker birthday, like five was — OMG you’re going to school! — and it’s not as dramatic as turning 10.

(Eight, I think, will be a big birthday since I recall feeling much older when I was eight.)

But there’s something about the youngest child that makes every single birthday seem a bit painful. She’s the last baby we will ever have, and each year on April 25 we get further away from the days of freshly-laundered onesies and those fluffy cloth diapered bums.

(We also get further away from sleepless nights, colic, diaper explosions and tiresome pumping sessions, so it’s not all bad.)

First she was one and I cried that she technically wasn’t a baby anymore — she was a wobbly, curious toddler with delicious thigh rolls. Then when she turned two, I realized she still had been a baby and now she really was a true toddler. Her third birthday was emotional because, woah, she was a toddler/preschooler hybrid chasing after her big brother.

But four? Four is very different from three …

Continue reading in my weekly parenting column, The Mom Scene …

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